Green-fingered pupils surpass goal of planting 900 trees for 900th anniversary

To mark The High School of Glasgow’s 900th anniversary, children from the Junior School and Senior School Eco Committees put together a plan to plant 900 trees to create a lasting legacy and benefit the City of Glasgow, whose name derives from the Gaelic for ‘dear green place’.

Pupils headed to the Cathkin Braes in the south of the city and swapped jotters and iPads for spades and saplings. Part of a Glasgow City Council initiative to protect the varied wildlife that live and nest across the grassland and marshes, children planted hedgerows of holly, blackthorn and hawthorn.

Across a two day period, with the guidance of a number of mentors from Glasgow City Council’s Community Woodlands, Greenspace and Biodiversity project and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), some 200 pupils from Senior 2, Transitus (Primary 7) and Junior 5 (Primary 5), displayed true teamwork to plant an impressive 3600 trees, four multiples of 900.

Immersed in fresh air and surrounded by nature, children discovered the reasons why planting these particular species are excellent for encouraging biodiversity in the area. Growing up to 1.5m in height in the next five years, the hedgerows will attract many birds and insects. The hedgerows themselves are being consciously planted in such a way that they will discourage dogs from charging across the marsh and disrupting wildlife nesting, ensuring walkers protect the delicate ecosystem and allow it to thrive.

Cathkin Braes Country Park covers 493 acres and reaches 200 metres above sea level, the highest point in Glasgow. It’s renowned for its panoramic views over the city and across to the Campsie Fells. The natural environment is excellent for environmental study and children witnessed a whole host of species on the day including frogs, kites, kestrels and herons, among others.

Kenneth Robertson, Head of Senior School, said: “We are incredibly proud of what the children were able to accomplish across a two day period of planting. Our initial ambition was to plant 900 trees and they’ve far surpassed that planting 3600! We now wish to plant multiples of 900 trees and are looking for other areas of Glasgow where we can support initiatives such as the one run by Glasgow City Council and volunteers from TCV. We are keen to get even more Junior School and Senior School year groups involved in this legacy project.

“Planting trees in the city that our School has been a part of since its earliest days feels like the perfect tribute to the city itself. Seeing the children get stuck in and give it their all was very special and perfectly sums up what the joy of learning at the High School is all about: children learnt lots and had fun while doing so, it’s a day many will remember for a long time. In years to come, they can revisit the Cathkin Braes, see the difference their hard work made and feel proud of what they helped to create.”

The High School of Glasgow. Tree and hedge planting on Cathkin Braes. Photograph by Martin Shields Tel 07572 457000 © Martin Shields

To mark its 900th anniversary year, the School launched its fundraising campaign, the 900 Campaign, to raise funds for three important projects: increasing the Bursary Fund, growing the entrepreneurship and design thinking programme START and to ensure the School’s campuses are equipped to be sustainable and environmentally friendly places of learning. Planting trees to encourage biodiversity and protect the wet lands at Cathkin Braes is a clear commitment from the School and its pupils to do all that they can to protect the planet.

The significance of planting trees also relates to the School’s crest which features the following: the upper third of the shield is red and carries an open book between two laurel wreaths, symbols of learning and reward. The lower part of the shield is identical to the City of Glasgow’s coat of arms, testament to the High School’s long association with the city. It brings together symbols of the city’s origin: the bird, the bell, the tree and the fish, attributed to legends of the patron saint of Glasgow, St Mungo.

Many will be familiar with the poem that accompanies Glasgow’s coat of arms:

The tree that never grew,
The bird that never flew,
The fish that never swam,
The bell that never rang.

Commenting, John O’Neill, Rector, said: “The City of Glasgow and The High School of Glasgow’s coat of arms may feature the tree that never grew, however we have high hopes that the saplings planted by our pupils will flourish and grow Ever Upwards, just like the individuals themselves. The tree planting initiative is a fitting tribute to our city, one we have been a part of since 1124. We are proud to be able to give something back and to ensure Glasgow will continue to thrive as a dear green place.”

You can view more images taken across the two days by scrolling through the gallery below:

HSOG 900 Tree Planting