New Lambourn home for HS2 refutrees – April 2024 update

In July 2020, Penny and her younger son visited West Berkshire Councilor Steve Masters who had joined the tree protectors at Jones Hill Wood in the Chilterns, which was under threat from HS2.

“We camped the night and got to appreciate the woods which had inspired Roald Dahl to write Fantastic Mr Fox. It became clear to us that even if the woods sadly couldn’t be saved, there were hundreds of saplings that could, if they were rescued and rehomed. 

“So, we returned a week later with spades and dug up over two hundred oak, ash, holly, cherry and maple saplings and put the word out in the local area that we had saplings looking for new homes – refuters, in other words.”

Very quickly, Penny was delighted to get a response from Jo Harbinson at St Michael’s Close in Lambourn.

“When we heard that there were saplings from Jones Hill Wood that needed a forever home, we were delighted to be able to offer some of them a new home as we tend the grounds at St Michael’s ourselves” explains Jo Harbison who has worked at Sheepdrove Organic Farm and now lives at the over 55s development at St Michael’s Close.

We have taken six small cherry saplings which should flower in the spring & bear small fruits for the birds in the autumn. This was our way of supporting the efforts of the tree protectors who are highlighting the destruction caused to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to make way for HS2. We also live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (the North Wessex Downs) and together with wider environmental issues of climate change and loss of biodiversity that affect us all, this is an issue that we feel very concerned about.” 

Jo nurtured the saplings during the summer and then invited us to join the community at St Michael’s Cose for a ceremonial planting on Thursday 1 October 2020.

“The site we have chosen for the saplings is along the fence on the corner of Baydon Road and Parsonage Lane,” Jo explained. “So, the trees can be enjoyed by the residents but also be seen from the road so in the fullness of time we hope our rescue trees will be a spectacle to be enjoyed by all.”

• Updates on the refutrees’ development will be provided below as available, the most recent first.

April 2024 update

“We thought you would be interested in an update on the cherry saplings you rescued from the jaws of the HS2 bulldozers,” Jo told us.

“They are growing in all shapes and sizes – we like to think they have their own personalities! So, we’re pleased to report they are all alive & well and starting to reward us with some blossom.

“They can be viewed along the railings on corner of Parsonage Lane and Baydon Road in Lambourn.

“We’ll take more pictures as they all come into bloom.”

April 2021 Update

Jo reports that the cherry tree saplings have all survived the winter & are starting to sprout, “although they’re still very small so don’t think we’ll get any flowers this year.

“We planted daffodil bulbs around them so this will be a lovely display for all to enjoy in years to come.

“And all thanks to you for rescuing them from the path of the bulldozers otherwise they’d have been destroyed and lost forever.

“We also had a couple of holly bushes which have been planted in a different part of the grounds and these too are doing well.”

cherry sapling Lambourn rescued from HS2

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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale