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It is eighteen months since the launch by Uachtaráin Michael D Higgins of Giants Grove in April 2017. This is a voluntary joint initiative between Birr Castle and Crann – Trees for Ireland. Planting was followed by a serious drought early that summer, then a very severe wet and cold winter and spring of 2018. This in turn was followed by the hottest Irish summer in many decades. So, how have our giant and coastal redwoods survived their new home at Birr Castle? Clara Clark lets us know.

Mollan redwood 10 Sept 2018

Image above: Clara Clark and Lord Rosse 10th September 2018

The answer is very well! It was agreed that the redwoods, spaced at ten metres apart, would be under-planted by indigenous Irish trees including holly, spindle, rowan and birch. The site was then left to grow naturally, including letting thistles and other ‘weeds’ cover the ground. This wilding has become a wonderful haven for insects, bees and other wildlife. It makes the site look messy, but such ground cover actually protects the trees from other predators.

Sponsors are coming forward to dedicate a tree to their loved ones, here and abroad, living or dead, but fondly remembered. Each tree has its sponsor’s identification label, its own GPS number and each sponsor receives an elegant certificate with this information. They are also entitled to one year’s membership of Crann – Trees for Ireland. Giants Grove’s email,, receives some very touching and moving letters and messages from the families who have become sponsors. They are delighted to dedicate this amazing living legacy to their loved ones, which will outlive us all by at least a thousand years. They really appreciate the sustainable element of Giants Grove, as these great trees will clean our air to counter-balance our polluting lifestyles. The Grove itself is a peaceful place to walk through, where one has to imagine these gangly and still quite little trees as they grow to their impressive heights and girths.

Our own diaspora family, based in London, now have their own tree which, I am very happy to record, is growing lustily and as healthily as the three-year old it is named for!   See photos of it at the launch on 21 April 2017, and recently, on 10th September 2018.

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