For those who have not been to the Old Hartley School grounds recently or have been wondering what on earth has been happening there this year:
The great old pine tree that may well be as old as the school building itself (1881) had to be removed for safety reasons. It had recently been dropping limbs and had a decided lean towards the school building, so common sense and a tree surgeon saw that removing the tree itself before any injuries or damage had been done was preferable to just waiting and seeing.
The Hartley Lands Trust, which is responsible for the care and maintenance of the School and grounds as well as several other areas of Crown Land in the Hartley area, applied for and received a grant from the Dept of Lands which covered the considerable cost of felling and removing most of the tree in February.
Due to wet conditions at the time of removal the ground has been left slightly damaged, but will be smoothed and sown with grass seed in the spring. Several metres of trunk remain to be turned into a totem pole, an art work or a table – whatever the community decides – at some future time.
It takes many years for a tree such as this one to grow to maturity, and with future generations in mind, several members of the Hartley District Progress Association recently planted, with the assistance of landscaper, Bradley Clifford, five advanced deciduous trees in the school grounds. Two English Oaks, one Claret Ash, one Aristocrat (flowering) Pear and one Gleditsia (the thornless variety), will provide summer shade and beauty for years to come.
These trees came from Ferngrove Nursery in Bilpin. Three were kindly paid for by members of the Hartley District Progress Association and the other two were paid for by the Association itself but donations from members of the community to offset these costs also are welcome. (See our Treasurer), as are volunteers to ensure these trees are watered regularly in the late spring and summer months (again, our Treasurer will be able to assist you) .
Other trees have been planted over the past couple of years in the grounds to provide shade and shelter, and particularly to screen the grounds from the noise and dust coming from the Great Western Highway. These are generally doing well (3 varieties of Wattle, a Chinese Elm and a Flowering Ash), except for the 5 Photineas which were relished by the resident rabbits of the area. A small Peppercorn Tree was also recently planted closer to Mid Hartley Road.
Tyres around the smaller trees may not look great but they do protect these vulnerable trees from wind and maintain much needed moisture near the roots, and rabbits are supposed to be repelled by the smell of rubber. The only drawback is forgetting to remove them when the trees are large enough to fend for themselves!
With the assistance of a sizeable grant given to the Hartley Lands Trust for the refurbishment of the School building by the departing NSW Labor Government, some much needed renovation can be begun on the school itself in the very near future. Watch this space!
Photos are of the School Grounds – the old pine tree, before and after its removal, and the newly planted trees as well as a few that were planted in 2008 can be seen here, along with more general photos of the school and grounds.