The Age of Loneliness




The Age of Loneliness

Mother Teresa once said: “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.” George Monbiot calls the present time ‘the age of loneliness’ and emphasises that loneliness has more profound and dramatic consequences on health than smoking or obesity. Feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, lower immunity,increase depression, lower overall subjective wellbeing and increase the stress hormone cortisol. Loneliness now severely affects people of all ages, with studies showing acute isolation among the young as much as the old.

There are clear links between mental illness and isolation, one leads to the other, and they feed off each other. In 2010, The Mental Health Foundation commissioned a report, the Lonely Society, which showed the link between our “individualistic society” and the increase in common mental health disorders over the last 50 years. The report revealed how mental health problems occur more frequently in unequal societies, where vulnerable people are often left behind. The report says that lonely people often share certain characteristics, such as a history of loss or trauma, and negative, critical and harsh parenting. Loneliness often gives rise to emotions of anger, sadness, depression, worthlessness, resentment, emptiness, and vulnerability.

This explains why so many of our volunteers dread Christmas, the time when everyone is supposed to be enjoying a “happy family” time, and why Cherry Tree puts so much effort into giving our loving community of volunteers a special happy time too. We would love to ignore the festival altogether, but society makes this impossible, so instead we put on a huge party with masses of food, and every single person gets a personally and carefully chosen parcel of gifts from “Misses Christmas,” which is delivered to their home if they cannot come to the party. Last year, Christmas Day was still a terrible, unbearable day for many people, so this year volunteers will have a self-organised day together. At Cherry Tree we believe in the power and strength of community, and have seen how it can bring people back to life again.

If you can contribute in any way to this special celebration, please contact the nursery. Gifts of food, presents, vouchers or money are very welcome, but no alcohol please.

Please note the Nursery will be closed on Saturdays from 17th December 2016 until 4th February 2017.

We would like to thank Mags4Dorset very much indeed for making us their charity of the year, and enabling us to write these monthly articles. We hope you have found them interesting!












A Day in Autumn





A Day in Autumn


It will not always be like this,
The air windless, a few last
Leaves adding their decoration
To the trees’ shoulders, braiding the cuffs
Of the boughs with gold; a bird preening

In the lawn’s mirror. Having looked up
From the day’s chores, pause a minute,
Let the mind take its photograph
Of the bright scene, something to wear
Against the heart in the long cold.

R.S. Thomas



Richard Lee




Our tribute to Richard at his funeral today, 3rd November 2016




Thank you for this opportunity to share some of our thoughts about Richard.

Jess is not able to be with you today and she has asked me to apologise to you all for that and send her love.

Our memories of Richard are a great comfort at the moment and we are so pleased to have them.

Richard joined Cherry Tree in 1997. It wasn’t long before it became clear that he was a man who enjoyed weeding. He weeded tirelessly in all weathers and throughout the year.

Right at the centre of the nursery is a potting station known to us as the middle potting bench. This was Richard’s potting bench. He would eye up whichever batch of plants were going to benefit from his weeding skills and bring them to this bench to work on them. He did this cheerily and with great care for the plants. We think that almost every plant on the nursery will have been moved by Richard at least once. In the winter months, he would often take great pride in feeding the shrubs that had become old and tired.  Some of these plants we might have believed were beyond saving, but Richard, embodying everything that Cherry Tree stands for, believed any plant could be saved, just as any person at Cherry Tree could learn that they had a special place and a special job to do.


At Cherry Tree when we print a label for a plant it records the date it is printed on. When we were talking about the many things we remembered about Richard one of our volunteers mentioned that only a few months ago they had seen him working on a batch of plants that were potted fifteen years ago, in 2001. Richard never gave up on any plant on the nursery. We might walk past him working and give our opinion that perhaps that Berberis might be past it. Richard’s reply usually gently mocked our foolishness for not realising that given time and a little more feed, and perhaps a little shaping it would become as good as new.

One of the volunteers said of Richard last week; he loved his plants and he loved his people. And he did. He was a real joy to work with. He would take time to have a conversation with anyone. Many of our younger, shyer volunteers remember Richard with very great affection. For them he was like a friendly father figure. His friendliness meant everyone knew they would find a cheerful face out on the nursery. Every single person who went up the nursery was greeted by Richard, with his smile, and conversation, which might be about plants, but also might be about how Bournemouth were doing in the football, how everyone was performing in the British Superbikes, which walk Dot was doing next or a trad jazz band he’d seen on one of his evenings out.

Richard enjoyed being active. For years he cycled to and from the nursery and people would arrive at the nursery from the bus telling us he was on his way. It seems only the other day he was cycling up the drive determined to carry on coming to Cherry Tree. For us, he will always be at the centre potting station, greeting us all with his smile, and when we have finished rebuilding it we will be naming it Richard’s potting station in his memory.




Sensory Gardens: Listening to Plants




MAGS4DORSET’S charity of the year – November 


Cherry Tree Nursery is the Bournemouth-based project of the registered charity the Sheltered Work Opportunities Project (SWOP), which also has a Poole project, Chestnut Nursery.

Sensory Gardens: Listening to Plants


Over the course of the summer, Cherry Tree Nursery volunteers participated in the ‘Fl-utter-ances’ arts project, which involved listening, analysing and mapping the sounds heard at Cherry Tree and at Hengistbury.  The unique and unusual soundscape maps they created will be on display at the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre in November 2016.

While doing this, volunteers became very interested in the sounds made by plants and trees, especially those involving the wind.  Bamboo are ideal for this.  Cherry Tree Nursery receives many inquiries, especially from schools and rest homes, about setting up sensory gardens, and there are some fascinating connections between sound and memory.  Sounds can be a wonderful way to create a calming environment.  Some plants, such as grasses, create amazing sound and the rustling of leaves is very soothing, as is the buzzing of a bee or the chirping of a grasshopper.

Plants also create sounds we cannot normally hear, for example the sound of water flowing up the stem of the plant, or the distress call put out by a plant which is stressed due to the drought.  Many people talk to plants, and this encourages plants and people to flourish.

A sensory garden should ideally stimulate all the senses.  Scent is an easy starting point, as so many plants have fragrant aromatic flowers, stems and leaves.  Herbs such as lavender and rosemary evoke memories for many people, and thoughts of scents can lead on to those of taste, helping to arouse the taste buds.

Textures are a wonderful aspect of gardening.  Think of the soft furry feel of lamb’s ear (stachys) or cool moss or rough seedpods.  The final sense is that of sight – whether textures, shapes or colours, remember the soothing nature of green.

It is also important to incorporate the sense that plants can provide shade, security, shelter, privacy and quietness. They can also be used to attract wildlife. Just the presence of plants, flowers, water and wildlife has a healing effect. At Cherry Tree we can help you find information on plants for all these purposes.


Visit Cherry Tree Nursery Monday to Friday from 8am – 3.30pm and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.  Closed on Sundays throughout the winter.

Cherry Tree Nursery Early Autumn News



  1. Cherry Tree Nursery Early Autumn News

We would like to thank everybody who has supported us over the spring and summer, and all the people who came to our very successful September Plant Sale. We still have lots of plants with colourful flowers available, as well as autumn bedding, and bulbs which have been very popular this year.Our summer weekend opening times (9 to 3 on Saturdays and 10 to 3 on Sundays) continue until the end of October. After that we will be closed on Sundays and open from 9 until 1 on Saturdays. Next year’s plant sales will be on 25th March, 1st July and 9th September.
Our next event is One World Week, from 10th to 14th October, when the shop will be filled with goods from Traidcraft for you to enjoy, as well as all our usual products, and extra craft items hand-knitted and sewn by the Cherry Tree volunteers and friends.There will be three days of films and speakers this year. You can find the programme here.

There is now an opportunity to vote at your local branch of Tesco for the winning project in the Bags of Help scheme which is distributing funds raised through the sale of carrier bags. You can vote from 31st October for 2 weeks in the Tesco Muscliff Express and Northbourne Express. One of the shortlisted projects is the Gateway Project proposed by the Stour Valley Supporters and Cherry Tree Nursery. This aims to create new nature trails in the woodlands, meadows and riverbank between Kingfisher Barn and Cherry Tree, and to provide information about plants and mental health. Cherry Tree may get its own naturalistic wooden sculpture!

We know many of you donate to Cherry Tree anonymously, and we never get the chance to thank you. To all of you invaluable anonymous donors, one of our volunteers sends this heartfelt message which speaks for all of us:

Thank you to all our Anonymous Donors

29 September 2016

Dear Anonymous Donors

On behalf of everyone at Cherry Tree Nursery, we would like to thank all our anonymous friends and supporters who donate to our charity and do not receive an acknowledgment letter; we want to thank you all for your very kind donations.  We really do appreciate the fact that you have thought of us in this way.

Please know that you are making a difference to people’s lives for the better.  Our charity has been in existence for 26 years now, so we must be doing something right.  We feel people in the wider community recognise this fact, which is a good enough reason to support us should you choose to do so.

Life for me before Cherry Tree Nursery was bleak to say the least, full of despair, anxiety and depression.  When things got tough, I had always been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  This time was different.  The light was no longer there.  This revelation scared me.  I was on the edge of a precipice.  I could no longer see anything ahead of me, only darkness.

Darkness was a familiar friend I did not invite into my life.  I had always surfaced back up to the light, but not this time.  I was on the verge of ending my life, a life that had only known suffering at the hands of others.  A life half-lived is how I look back on it, sad but true.

I grew up with no sense of self.  I did not know who I was, just a bundle of emotion and anger mainly, not knowing when the lid was going to blow off the pressure cooker.  I did not want to be that person any more.  I made an appointment to see my doctor because I knew I was not coping, I had reached the end of the road.

My doctor at the time referred me to Cherry Tree Nursery.  I started there the next week as a volunteer and I have never looked back.  I have learnt to propagate, weed and feed plants, prune and pot on plants to larger size pots.  Over time I began to relax and feel more at peace within myself.  I have made many new friends and have a social life, my life is much richer than it was and I have Cherry Tree to thank for that.

Cherry Tree Nursery has completely changed my life for the better.  I have two beautiful granddaughters and they are the light within my life.  Being a volunteer at Cherry Tree Nursery is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Thank you, Jess, for believing in me when I did not have the strength or inclination to believe in myself.

Yours sincerely

Eileen Foley

Young Memories of an Old Fisherman




From 4Dorset October 2016, page 17


Young Memories of an Old Fisherman

By Trevor Randall, Cherry Tree Propagator

Trevor shares these memories with us in recognition of the work Cherry Tree volunteers have been doing with the Stour Valley wardens and the wildlife walks they share together. 

There used to be a lovely island full of wildlife on the River Stour between Cherry Tree and Redhill. The channel on either side of the island was very deep, but so narrow I can remember people putting a scaffolding plank down to walk across from the riverbank.

There were a few trees on the island, and the river alongside it was always full of massive silvery shoals of roach with orange-red fins, weighing up to 3 lbs each. There were some huge pike and I once watched one of them pull a full-sized mallard duck under the water!

At the top end of the island was a very deep hole where I used to fish with my friend Alan, using my grandfather’s old wooden sea rod, and wooden centre-pin reel. Every so often I used to hook the same old eel – I could only get his head above the water before he would shake the rod and break the line, even though I used the very strongest fishing line I could find. Alan and I hooked him many times, but he always got away.

There were many birds on the island, and it was especially good for different types of warbler. Two great crested grebes used to nest in the rushes, and I have to say their courtship in ritual formation was truly spectacular.

Later on, down past the island, they changed the course of the river. But there are still a few trees in the field as you look down towards Redhill which used to be along the bank of the river when it ran alongside Redhill caravan park. The river is far away now, and the island no longer exists.

Click here to see map: trevors-stour-valley-map-centred

Cherry Tree Nursery, off New Road Roundabout, Northbourne.


Open 8 to 3.30 weekdays, 9 to 3 Saturdays, 10 to 3 Sundays.




14368917_1773522209603476_5883872730094741523_nSacred Stone Camp, Standing rock by Dine artist Monty Singer painted on the South side of the Cannonball river on 18th September 2016



THEME FOR 2016: “Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” – attributed to Chief Seattle, 1854

MON 10th to Friday 14th OCTOBER 2016

Traidcraft items, local goods, Cherry Tree volunteers’ knitting and sewing, all for sale in the shop all week. Special promotions and many extra local, fairly and ethically traded goods available. “Well worth coming just for the shopping!”


We have a shorter programme than usual this year, but hope you will be motivated to attend.


11.00 to 12.30: True Costs: film about sweat shops and production for the clothing industry

1.30 to 3.00: Refugees. Presentation by Irwin Buchanan, head of the Bournemouth-based International Care Network which has been welcoming and settling refugees in this area for 15 years.


11.00 to 12.30: No to the Dakota Access Pipeline – the remarkable resistance of the Standing Rock Sioux which has “united the tribes for the first time since Little Bighorn!”

pey1.30 to 3.00: Film: The Last Peyote Guardians, about the Huichol of Mexico and their annual pilgrimage.


11.00 to 1.30: ‘Moving Beyond Emergency Water Aid’ – presentation by Anna Sowter PhD




Entrance and parking are free.

Toilets and light refreshments available. No hot drinks in the film and presentation room.