Giants Grove New Years Day 2021

Written by Sean

January 5, 2021

Phew! 2020 is over.

While all our lives are changed dramatically in 2021. The virus had very little impact on the Giants Grove. I saw the site a lot less, and an interesting Trinity College University study had to be postponed, because of the lockdowns, but nature, life, and the seasons, all continued unabated at the Grove, unconcerned by Covid.

Lord Rosse inspects a young giant in the Giants Grove

Every year that passes, and every inch of leader-growth the sequoias develop, brings them closer to establishment and means that less and less maintenance is required. Soon they will be ‘away’, free from any competition that could hold them back from becoming the tallest and largest tree species on the planet. In fact, some are already away, the majority should be away this year, and the rest will follow in the next few years – slower, but surely. Remember, it is not a competition, they are only 4 years into a 1200-year life cycle, so the smallest, weakest, sequoia still has every chance to become the tallest and strongest.

The site still needed general maintenance – the little jobs that make a big impact at this early stage. We carried out weed control twice this year, as usual, manually pulling and cutting grass and weeds away from the trees. The Grove is showing the results of our ‘no chemical’ policy, so we must fight the woody weeds that are fighting to become established, particularly willow. Willow is the only native tree we must control as it is extremely vigorous and there is a real danger it could take over the site if left unchecked. In a couple of years, the sequoias will close canopy and suppress the competition themselves, but until then, we control whatever is required.

We had to put a tree-shelter on every young Giant because a hare found their bark to be delicious. We used recycled plumbing pipes for the shelters. These were chosen as they were strong enough to protect the tree, and to attach the label securely to, while also being flexible enough to wrap around the tree, expand with it, and be removed later when the bark matures and strengthens. The sequoias are definitely happier now that they are protected, I’m not sure about the hare though. The deer damage is ongoing, but although it does harm the trees, it has not ring-barked any stems, and does not kill them, so we accept some level of loss rather than trying to remove the culprit, because deer shelters are just not practical on sequoia.

So, the Giants Grove is doing well, coming along nicely as planned and expected, a tiny little bit of good news from 2020 amongst all that has impacted our lives, our families, and our planet. The redwoods at Giants Grove have already survived drought, frost, flooding, and a plague, and have grown stronger despite the challenges in their first 4 years.

The Giants Grove Project is an Partnership between Birr Castle Estate and Crann – Trees for Ireland

Sean McGinnis Ecoplan Forestry

Tags: Birr CastlecrannEcoplanGiants GroveGiantsGroveredwoodssequoia

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