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Elden's Retreat

New trees at Elden's Retreat

The Playing Field on Bridge Road, Colby was gifted to the parish by the Elden family, of Highbury Farm, in 1979.  It is maintained by the Parish Council, formerly with help from "Wild About Colby" (​WAC) - this group carried out several environmental projects including the copse and creation of a wildflower margin, as well as working with the Council on tree management.  The group has now disbanded, but members continue to help with the project. 

In 2019 the Parish Council decided that it wanted to improve the playing field still further for wildlife and a plan was drawn up to plant native tree species and create a wildflower strip around the inside edge of the field.  On 15th February 2020, 20+ intrepid local residents braved the pouring rain to help plant 500 trees.

The following species were planted: English Oak, Aspen, Alder, Silver Birch, Rowan, Sweet Chestnut, Wild Cherry, Hazel, Guelder Rose, Spindle, Dog Rose and Field Maple.

Just a few weeks later the first Covid 19 lockdown came into force which meant that maintenance, and in particular watering of the young trees in the very hot and dry spring which followed, was not possible. 


As a result about 80 trees died and had to be replaced, which happened on 30th January 2021.  For 2021 it was discovered that the ground water level within the field could be raised by manipulating the pipe in the adjoining ditch.  This was successfully achieved thanks to Councillor Stuart Clarke, and there has been no problem with trees drying out since.


A two metre-wide grass strip on the inner edge of the tree planting was left to grow into a “hay meadow” and was supplemented with wildflower plants grown by the Greenfingers Gardening Club.  These included knapweed, ox-eye daisy, yarrow, bird’s-foot trefoil and cowslips.  The strip is left uncut throughout the summer attracting bees and butterflies, and is then cut in September and the cuttings raked off and piled in the corners of the field.  This ensures that the grass does not rot on top of the wildflowers which would eventually smother them.

The grass area beneath the trees is not cut and this too is attracting lots of wildlife as the long grass is good for small mammals and insects.  In time, the tree canopy will grow over the grass and drop its leaves, suppressing grass growth and replacing it naturally with woodland plant species. 

A circular path its cut in through the trees each year and this will be maintained as the trees grow.  The large central area of the former playing field is regularly cut short to allow for informal recreation and sports.

If you walk around Elden’s Retreat regularly look to see what wildlife you can spot – and let us know.

Below is a gallery of photos taken at Elden's Retreat.

The 5 year Management Plan for the site is available to view.

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