Oct 302013
 
Sweet chestnut being taken down as a result of disease.

Sweet chestnut being taken down as a result of poor condition of the root collar.

If you were in the Garden last week you would have heard the sound of the arboretum team dismantling a large sweet chestnut. It is always a great shame to loose such a large tree from the living collection and the decision to remove a tree follows quite a rigorous process.

Trees in the garden are routinely surveyed. When a tree has features that suggest it may become a hazard it is investigated. The root collar of this tree was excavated using an air spade to look at the condition of the roots. The root collar was found to be in a poor condition.

The option of reduction by pruning was discussed but due to the poor condition of the tree in this case it was decided to fell and replant.

Counting annual growth rings to establish the exact age of the tree.

Counting annual growth rings to establish the exact age of the tree.

Once the tree was completely removed we counted the rings to age the tree. The ring count put the tree at 141 which means it was planted (or grew from a seedling) in 1872. This showed that this was an old Rochied Estate tree.

We have removed the stump with the JCB and will replant the area this season. One of the trees to be planted will be a wild origin sweet chestnut grown here at Inverleith from seed collected at 1480 m in the Kackar Mountains in North East Turkey. The seed was brought back in 2008 and the tree will have high scientific and conservation value because of the data associated with the collection.

Some of the timber has been put to one side to be inoculated with various fungi for an exciting new project….. Watch this space!

Venerable trees

 Communities, Other News  Comments Off on Venerable trees
Jun 122013
 
Wych Elms, Renfrewshire. Plate from Sylva Britannica; or, portraits of forest trees written and illustrated by Jacob George Strutt (1790-1864) published in folio format, 1822. Copy held by the library at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Photographed by Lynsey Wilson.

Wych Elms, Renfrewshire. Plate from
Sylva Britannica; or, portraits of forest trees written and illustrated by Jacob George Strutt (1790-1864) published in folio format, 1822.
Copy held by the Library at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Photographed by Lynsey Wilson.

I’m always glad of an excuse to take a nosey at some of the content of our Library and Archive collection at the Botanics. Our librarians have such a wealth of knowledge, and I’m very grateful to be able to tap into that.

I recently installed a small display in the John Hope Gateway about ash trees (on show until 14 July), showing items from our Library, Archive and Herbarium, to coincide with our Moving Forward from Ash Dieback project. One of the things I finally got to see ‘in the flesh’ for the first time was Jacob George Strutt’s Sylva Britannica; or, portraits of forest trees, published in folio format in 1822. The large engraving plates are beautiful, so I thought I’d share images of a couple here (though the photographs in no way do them justice).

The health and resilience of trees has been at the forefront of our minds working on the Ash Dieback Project, but other species come to mind when considering how pests and diseases have impacted on trees. For me the one that I think of is the wych elm, ravaged by dutch elm disease in the late twentieth century. This is partly due to my love of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End in which a wych elm with pig’s teeth in it plays a central role, but also because the Wych Elm Project exhibition was the first exhibition in the John Hope Gateway and one that is remembered by many.

If you’d like to know more about wych elm, and thoughts on what we have learnt when considering new tree health issues such as ash dieback, Max Coleman will be talking on the subject at this weekend’s Book Festival at the Botanics (Saturday, 11am – click here for more details). Continue reading »

Apr 302013
 

Resilience noun [mass noun]
1 the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity
2 the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
[Oxford English Dictionary 2012]

How resilient are the woodlands in Scotland? I like to think they are pretty tough, able to withstand the hardest of times and bounce back. The ancient woodlands of Scotland, such as Rassal Ash wood on the west coast, have endured centuries of change. But the tree health project I have recently been coordinating has started to make me think our trees are more vulnerable than they may first appear. Continue reading »