The University of Leicester maintains the Attenbrough Arboretum as a free-to-the-public open space and a place of education for local schools and organisations.
Many locals in the Knighton area visit the arboretum on a regular basis. Feedback is always very encouraging. The arboretum is seen as a quiet oasis hidden away in the middle of busy suburbia and offers the visitor a peaceful, relaxing and rejuvenating walk in beautiful surroundings.
Those who do frequent the park will have noticed that the arboretum, serene and beautiful as it is, could do with a little 'tidying'. The University does have a budget for the maintenance of the arboretum, providing one full-time employee on site 5 days a week. Main duties and responsibilities cover visitor health and safety and regular housekeeping duties such as grass cutting, shrub pruning, cutting back overhanging branches and litter picking. This leaves little time for improvement of the arboretum.
Much of the work volunteers do involves clearing away the brambles and saplings that have grown up around our specimen trees. These trees have become difficult to view and to approach. The clearing operation allows visitors to properly view the specimen trees in all their glory as originally intended at the arboretum's inception.
Ivy that has grown up the trunk and into the canopy is also cut back. Ivy growth prevents proper examination of the tree during the annual arboreal inspection. This reduces the chances of spotting damaged or weak limbs which should be removed for health and safety reasons and the remarking of early signs of disease.
A tree crown full of ivy also causes problems in the winter. Deciduous trees drop their leaves in the winter since photosynthesis has stopped. This lack of foliage also reduces the tree's 'sail', and minimises the probability of the tree being blown down during winter storms. Ivy, being an evergreen and thus present throughout the winter months, increases the chances of storm damage to the tree.
An old planter was acquired and cleaned and treated. The planter was then set in position and filled with our own recycled compost.
Finally a couple of volunteers spent a worthwhile hour planting out the raised bed with an assortment of spring-flowering bulbs.
Looking forward to a heart-warming display this spring (2023) to add a touch of colour to the arboretum.
The university has funded 3 dozen new bird nesting boxes to replace the bird boxes that were put up two decades ago.
As per the photograph on the right, these have now been painted and numbered by our volunteers and are awaiting installation in the coming days.
Let's hope our feathered friends are appreciative and take full advantage of all our efforts.
Attenborough Arboretum is currently running a weekly volunteer programme. Places are available on Thursday mornings. The aboretum is somewhat untidy and there is quite a bit of work to be done to improve the grounds and visitor experience.
If the idea of spending a few hours on a Thursday morning helping out around the arboretum appeals, then please contact Tom Cross on 07833 194 007, during working hours for an informal chat about what is involved.
Alternatively, you can just turn up on Thursday morning at 8:30 am for a 'taster' session. A session normally lasts from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm.
Work consists of light gardening duties; pruning, bulb planting, ivy removal and such-like. Gloves and sensible shoes are required, but all hand tools are provided. There is a break at about 10:30 am with tea, coffee and biscuits.
You are not obligated to stay for the full session, nor do you have to commit to every single Thursday for volunteer work. The university is grateful for any help received.