Forget the commemorative mugs, here is a lovelier way to mark the birth of a child

plantingtree_3

So Kate and Wills are in the midst of the pukey/screamy/nappy-changing wonder all over again, but meanwhile, thousands of other people in the UK will be marking the birth of a child no less important. Whilst Princess Charlotte will get bunting, commemorative mugs and endless column inches, there is a much lovelier way to celebrate the newest addition to your family.

Planting a tree for the birth of a child, or as part of their naming day ceremony or christening, is a wonderful way of linking them to the natural world. A tree that is theirs will make them feel special and they will grow older and taller together, recorded in a photo together each birthday. It is a way of planting the child’s roots firmly in the soil.

Every tree planted has massive benefits for the environment. A tree is a mini planet; a perfect eco-system for insects, birds, mammals. A mature oak tree is home to over 280 species of insect alone. Not only that, but it is removing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turning it into oxygen for those new lungs to breath.

Ideally, choose a native tree, such as a rowan, silver birch or fruit tree. If space is an issue, then a small bay or rose in a pot is a lovely option. For fruit, try a patio plum tree. These can even be grown on balconies but you’ll need to remember to water them regularly.

When choosing a tree, you may be interested in the symbolism and folklore behind different species. The rowan is the Celtic tree of life and is traditionally planted to celebrate the birth of a new baby. Meanwhile, the oak is linked to strength, wild pear for loyalty, hazel for creativity and cherry for love and protection. Good luck to you if you plant a hawthorn… it apparently results in contradiction.

Of course, a tree so loaded with importance is a risky proposition. What if it dies or you need to move house? You could wait until Autumn for a planting ceremony to increase its chances of survival, watering frequently if you opt for spring or summer planting, or planting two (in the hope that at least one would make it).

If you need to move house and want the young tree to come too, make sure you water it well the day before moving and keep as many of the roots intact as possible. Then, wrap the roots in damp sacking for the move, and replant it as soon as possible into a hole that is bigger than the one you took it out of. And water often, while crossing your fingers.

If every new baby had a native tree planted in its honour, then our world might just look a little greener.

A similar article published in the EDP and EADT

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My book is beautiful, and it is no thanks to me…

Book cover

Let’s get one thing straight… I don’t really ‘do’ aesthetically pleasing. My life is a little messy and random and most certainly does not look like it stepped out of the pages of a magazine. The food I cook tastes great, but if I presented it on Masterchef may be greeted by this comment; “It looks like a cat accidentally ate some chickpeas and has regurgitated them onto a bed of brown rice.”

In writing my book, I wanted to reflect the reality of messy parenthood combined with the aspiration to be green – which by its nature is sometimes about choosing the second-hand and the love worn over the sparkly new and bang up-to-date trendy alternative. I think I’ve achieved that ethos in the writing of the book, but what about the photos?

No one wants to see my unmade bed, even if it is organic cotton, and no one wants to see the slight stain on my top because I love it too much to chuck it away. A certain loveliness was required!

Luckily, my good friend and photographer, Phil Barnes, is very talented at making things look great. He was able to take the pile of knitted garments I wanted in the book and photo them just so, in gorgeous light, so they look brilliant. He has an eye for detail and composition that turns an everyday scene into something beautiful.

Clothes

In the photos, I took the liberty of wiping snot slugs off my children’s faces, but their clothes (and mine) are our usual assortment of second-hand and handed on items. The wonderful thing about taking photos in the countryside is that everyone looks relaxed and well, and the background is naturally beautiful, without me needing to primp or preen it at all.

Space

Next, the designers made it all fit together well, making sure that it is colourful and never too text heavy or boring looking.

So I am proud to say, that my book will be beautiful and that is thanks to Phil Barnes, the design team at Green Books and of course the Norfolk countryside.

All photos in this post are by Phil Barnes, who is available for family portrait photos, outdoors or in, and weddings across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and beyond.

http://www.philbarnesphotography-portraits.co.uk

My book is available from the 8th October 2015 (still feels so far away!)