By Mark Ballard, Curator.
As I write, we continue to be at the mercy of the all too familiar wet & windy weather, it has already been a long winter. A question we are often asked during spells such as this, is whether we have suffered much in the way of damage to the botanical collection. We are fortunate to be able to report that we have been largely unaffected by the strong winds to date, which combined with extremely wet ground conditions can be potentially problematic to our trees.
We regularly inspect all our specimen trees & shrubs, especially following adverse weather, to record information & ensure that we can safely open to the public. So far we have had around two dozen larger trees either up-rooted, blown over, or with branches that have snapped. Thankfully none of them represent a significant loss, & we will make sure any gaps are filled in due course with new plantings. We like to think that a well maintained arboretum will suffer much less damage, but the truth is as we seen in the past there is also a huge amount of luck involved in these things.
Two trees that you may very well know have suffered some indirect damage, these are the pair of Full Moon Maples (Acer japonicum) on Holford Ride, tree numbers 08-0032 & 08-0307. The maples are on the north side of the ride & protrude almost to the midway point of this important vista. They always colour a very bright red in early autumn each year, which attracts lots of interest from leaf-peepers & keen photographers. A Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) lost one of its main leading branches on the opposite side of the ride, which was large enough to smash into both of the maples. We have already begun the clear-up operation & with some formative pruning the good news is that the maples will not have to be felled, although they will be slightly slimmer!
The wet ground conditions do represent a significant challenge to our Tree Team & volunteers, as it does hamper efforts to undertake the ongoing maintenance & development of the arboretum that is so essential to its wellbeing. However, wet weather clothing & plenty of cake appears to be keeping their spirits up!
The culprit – the view across Holford Ride towards the Full Moon maple following the recent stormy weather.
The Tree Team moved quickly to make safe the damage and the next job will be to clear way the cut branches.
Some very slick and sensitive formative pruning should mean that most people will not even notice.
A Tree Team felling operation on the edge of Silk Wood, where sadly 15 Leyland Cypress were uprooted.
Where does all this rain water end up, well first it settles at the bottom of the valley . . .
. . . before gushing into a temporary ‘Lake Westonbirt’ on neighbouring farmland.