This week, work began on dismantling a large oak tree near to the Westonbirt Restaurant. Curator Mark Ballard explains why the decision to remove this much-loved tree was made.
It is with a heavy heart that we have decided that the time has come to remove this very large Common Oak (Quercus robur) tree number 26-0675, that has long been a familiar feature in our landscape.
Because the tree is so old and certainly predates the arboretum, we do not have any historical records such as a planting date, but it will be interesting to count the annual rings once felled.
We have been monitoring this particular tree very closely for a long time, not only because of its location in a busy public area, but more so due to several health issues that have required annual inspection.
We have noticed a gradual decline in health that has required more and more intervention, in order to ensure the safety of everybody that passes beneath the tree.
You may have noticed some die-back of branches in the canopy overhead, which our team of climbers have had to ‘deadwood’ each year, and several of the larger limbs were previously braced with cables to provide additional support.
On the main stem there are bracket fungi as well as cracks and ‘stem bleeds’ that are all signs of internal decay. Unfortunately, the soil around the roots has been compacted by lots of tiny feet over the years too.
So because of these factors and its close proximity to people and buildings, we have taken the decision to fell the tree on the grounds of safety.
As ever, saying farewell to an old tree such as this does present us with an opportunity – we will use the vacated space to improve the landscape here in the future and to plant more specimens.
Mark Ballard, Curator