Spring marks a new annual tradition for Purdey, which last week saw some of our team don their wellies and head down to the Purdey Royal Berkshire estate in Pangbourne for this year’s round of tree planting. The initiative places our environmental responsibility front and centre, launched in 2022 to give back to the landscape that we value so much.
For every Purdey gun sold we plant a tree, celebrating the walnut wood used in our gunmaking; we also plant several more for good measure, including extra varieties to support the habitat in the surrounding area. Our inaugural planting last year saw an array of 100 trees take their place within the Shooting School grounds. We chose primarily Juglans Regia varieties of walnut; a wood known for being hard and durable, but also for its beautifully unique character, grain and colour. Plus varieties of fruit-bearing walnut trees, such as Broadview, Fernor, Franquette and Lara, as well as throwing some Cobnut, Almond, Quince and Plum into the mix.
Our motivation? Well, as a brand whose heritage is rooted in selling guns, it’s important for us to strengthen all efforts when it comes to sustainability. The breadth of trees planted helps contribute to cross-pollination, encouraging and supporting wildlife in the area from bees and insects to birds and mammals, building the biodiversity around Royal Berkshire. Our new trees have also been added to the register of the late Queen’s Green Canopy, and we share similar objectives. Planting is a sign of intent, marking special moments as the Royals have done for years, and protecting and nurturing native tree cover in the UK.
The very same week as we were planting at the end of March, Sir David Attenborough was doing the same in Richmond Park, planting an English Oak to officially open the Platinum Jubilee Woodland in honour of the late Queen. Given the drastic decline in native woodland in the UK over the last century, this initiative is imperative. And, no one says it better than Attenborough when it comes to why planting more trees matters: “The Queen’s Green Canopy has created an invaluable national legacy for our children, future generations and the planet itself.”
This year, we selected a similar variety and number of trees, and chose two new areas in the grounds for the saplings to take root. Wild meadow flowers have also been sown in and around the trees for interest, colour and a further boost of biodiversity. “It’s wonderful to see the trees being planted,” says Dee Kennedy-Merrett, Sustainability Manager at Purdey. “I am looking forward to seeing the ever changing landscape, year on year, as the trees grow and bear fruit.”
Kennedy-Merrett sources the trees from a beautiful farm in Kent. The suppliers head up the planting and once the trees are in, it’s over to the grounds team at the Purdey Royal Berkshire site. Walnut trees themselves don’t need very much maintenance in the first few years, apart from a good watering during drier spells, and then pruning as they get older. Those planted last year are thriving – apart from one unlucky tree which was a casualty of a groundsman’s tractor. The less said about that the better (it has since been replaced).
While time in the game doesn’t necessarily translate to “sustainability” for every heritage brand, for Purdey, it’s ingrained in our ethos. We celebrate the British countryside in our Purdey Awards for Game and Conservation (entries for this year’s Awards close 26th May). We have always made products that are built to last, we value small-scale production within the UK where possible, locally sourced materials, craftsmanship and specialised skills. In fact, the idea for this tree-planting initiative was first proposed by one of our gunmakers – a sure sign that hand-craft ensures that natural materials are always front of mind.
We appreciate it will be a very long time before we can harvest our own trees for stockmaking, but the joy is that each year the canopy and habitat of the valley will continue to evolve and flourish. There really is no better way to celebrate the start of spring.