Volunteers Graham and Robin assist with planning the privet plantings

A group of volunteers met at the Millennium Meadow on Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, to add to the diversity of plants near the fish gate entrance.

The planting session was a special one for some of the volunteers: the Privett family of London Road. They had observed that one date was left out on the sign describing the Ogham Tree Circle: December 23rd; And that just happened to be the birthday of Noel Privett. Each tree in the circle represents a time of year. The elder covers 25th November to 22nd December and then the beech covers 24th December to 20th January.

The entrance way formed by two of the privet trees is "three Privetts" apart.

Noel approached the chairman of the Millennium Green Trust, the registered charity that manages the meadow, to ask if his family could do something special to include December 23rd in the circle. 

A plan was agreed to use some of the remaining Big Lottery Fund grant, which had already been earmarked for purchasing plants, to buy some Ligustrum vulgare trees – commonly known as privets!


Noel said, “Three Privetts (Jonah, Reuben and me) and one Isbester (Claire) planted them this morning.”

Not all volunteers were digging in trees. Some like Tolii here were reading in them!

He continued, “As well as two privets creating an opening in the meadow (Privet Drive?), we planted four in a row, to represent the Privett grandchildren. Graham [the Meadow Trust’s chairman] said they should be planted about three feet apart and suggested we choose a number with some Privett significance.”

They decided on a separation of 2 feet, 5 inches – the reason why is described by Noel below.

The collection of trees and plants will also help to enclose the area where the new metal picnic tables are. Some holly plants were added near the sign, too. These will produce colourful berries later in the year.

The Bates family of Test Road also planted a bush. Who will grow faster?

Later, another local family, the Bates of Test Road, who were just visiting the Meadow, decided to stop and lend a hand. Now their children can visit the bush that they planted and watch it grow – and see who gets taller faster!

If you would like to get involved in any way with the Meadow – be it as a volunteer who adds new plants, digs out dead ones, trims tree limbs, tidies up, or even just helps manage the place as a trustee, then you can get in contact with the committee through their website.

The Trust is currently looking to attract people to help on their board, especially ones that have skills in finance and management. Details and contact information for the Meadow is HERE.

This story was based upon one that appeared on the Meadow site, read that HERE.

Noel explains how his family decided upon the distance between the privet trees that they planted: “In honour of my father, who was born in Sunderland, we planted them 2 feet 5 inches apart. Why? Because the first Wearmouth Bridge, crossing the River Wear in Sunderland, was made of six iron ribs, cast in blocks each 2 feet 5 inches long held together with wrought iron bands.”

He continued, “The six ribs were joined together by cast iron cross tubes, which held them rigid. When the bridge opened in 1796 it was the largest single span iron bridge in the world. The bridge was rebuilt in 1859, but with the original ribs still in place. When my father was born in 1925, this bridge was still standing, and was only replaced by the current bridge in 1929.”

Comments (1)

  • Noel Privett

    It was a real treat to do the planting in the meadow. If you get the chance to go along to the next planting, do. Actually, I didn’t ask Graham if we could do something to commemorate 23rd December, he just very kindly offered to do it. I was delighted and honoured when he told me what he was planning. Thank you!

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