The St Michaels Millennium Group was formed in the late 1990’s to find an original project to celebrate the Millennium. Permission was sought from the owner of the common to erect a tree in the pond and the National Lottery (Millennium Awards) granted £3,500 towards the project. The villagers cleared out and puddled the site of the former drovers’ pond in 2000 and commissioned local artist blacksmith, Peter Crownshaw, to design and create a stainless steel tree to mark the Millennium. The Group was also awarded a £500 prize for the project in a competition run by Worcestershire County Council. The pond and the surrounding area were planted with local wild plants under the guidance of botanist, the late Ellen Heywood-Waddington.
In 2001, the management of the tree and pond was taken over by the Village Hall committee. Dick and Anne Fox donated the wood for the bench which overlooks the pond and is known locally as ‘the giant’s bench’. Peter Crownshaw shaped the wood and constructed the framework. The cost of its construction was covered by Peter Mound in his mayoral year.
The tree is made from stainless steel (316 grade) which after forging to shape has been pickled in acid, washed and then electro-polished. (The tree is suspended in an electrolyte and a current passed through it, like reverse electroplating). This has the effect of smoothing, brightening and enhancing the surface chromium oxide layer – a very, very hard layer that gives stainless steel its corrosion resistance.
Each leaf displays the engraved name of an individual living in the village at the millennium and the leaves are arranged in family groups. They are able to be read with binoculars, the leaves on the top being blank.
St Michaels Millennium Group – Carolyn Belfield, Andy Cook, Peter Crownshaw, Anne Dicken, Dick and Anne Fox, Chris Holloway, Mike and Mary Jordan, Ellen Heywood-Waddington
The original planting included Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow-wort), Caltha Palustris (Marsh Marigold), Dryopteris filix-mas (Male Fern), Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop), Iris pseudacorus (Yellow Iris), Juncus articulates (Jointed Rush), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort), Lysimachia vulgaris (Yellow Loosestrife), Lythrum salicaria (Purple Loosestrife), Myosotis scorpioides (Water Forget-me-not), Narcissus pseudonarcissus (Wild daffodil), Phyllittis scolopendrium (Hart’s Tongue Fern), Ranunculus aquatilis (Common Water-crowfoot), Rorippa sylvestris (Creeping Yellow Cress), Sorbus torminalis (Wild Service Tree).
The pond, tree and surrounding area is now maintained by a sub-committee of the Village Hall Committee which has set up and implemented a programme to support local wildlife, replant with wild plants from original list and improve the scenic value of the area recognising and developing the vision of the original project.
An ongoing programme of maintenance and planting by the sub-committee is carried out approximately three times each year.
Additional wild plants have been planted which include Achillea ptarmica (Sneezewort), Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold), Eupatorium cannabinum (Hemp Agrimony), Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet), Geum rivale (Water Avens),Hypericum tetrapterum (Square Stemmed St John’s Wort), Lotus pendunculatus (Birdsfoot Trefoil), Lychnis flos-cuculi(Ragged Robin), Narcissus pseudonarcissus (Wild Daffodil), Veronica beccabunga (Brooklime).