The Tree Register Latest News
The tallest wild tree
Rob Lynley's discovery of a 45m beech in the Derwent gorge below Willersley Castle near Matlock Bath in Derbyshire sets a new benchmark for the tallest 'wild' or native tree in Britain and Ireland. It replaces another beech, climbed in 2015 in Newtimber Holt in West Sussex, which is 44m tall.
Feeling the heat
The hot, dry summer of 2018 may have been stressful for those of us with lots of newly-planted trees to keep watered, but many of our trees themselves are actually adapted to climates considerably warmer and drier than the UK norm, and they seem to have loved it.
Greater London in particular is increasingly a home-from-home for trees from warm-temperate and even sub-tropical parts of the globe. Lagerstroemia indica (Crepe-myrtle), Albizia julibrissin (Pink Siris) and X Chitalpa tashkentensis (Summer Bells Tree) are currently popular choices for street-planting in the capital and over the last month have smothered themselves in blossom. Several species of palm are leaping skywards: Washingtonia filifera (Petticoat Palm) 5.5m to its growth-point in a front garden in Dulwich, Jubaea chilensis (Chilean Wine Palm) 2m to the growth-point on the Goose Green roundabout in East Dulwich, Butia capitata (Brazilian Jelly Palm) in the Chumleigh Gardens in Camberwell and Phoenix canariensis (Canary Palm), now with trunks up to 3m long at many sites around the city.
In front gardens, even more borderline trees can sometimes be found, given a taste of the great outdoors after outgrowing their original role as pot-plants. Radermachera sinica (China Doll Tree) is 8m tall in a front garden in Hackney, its domed crown wreathed in 15cm creamy trumpet flowers.
In the photograph is Brachychiton rupestris (Queensland Bottle Tree), planted out at Capel Manor near Enfield after starring in a Chelsea show garden in 2011 and now looking set to make a large specimen. Like several of its genus, it is adapted to shed its leaves in droughts and to sprout a new crop when it turns cooler and wetter. This September, after a few weeks of rain-showers, it was looking positively smug.
Emmenopterys henryi in flower
Ernest Wilson, who first introduced Emmenopterys henryi from the mountains of western China in 1907, described it as one of the most beautiful flowering trees he had seen.
In Europe it generally disappoints, though it's certainly worth growing for its red-flushing foliage and graceful habit. Only three trees in Britain have been known to flower - until this year when reports started coming in from across the country. It seems that what it needs is a cold winter quickly followed by summer heat.
Trees at Roath Park in Cardiff (the UK champion at 17m), Batsford Arboretum in Gloucestershire, the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and Wakehurst Place in West Sussex are all now in bloom, with probably the best display from two at Borde Hill (also in West Sussex) - pictured here with thanks to Borde Hill Gardens.
Does anyone know of other examples also coming into flower?
A timely champion Ash
A highlight during a visit to the Cotswolds was the discovery of this 41-metre Ash in Workman's Wood near Painswick. It is the tallest ash measured in Britain for more than half a century, and is a young tree still adding height. In a part of the country already severely affected by Chalara Ash Dieback, it also seems to be showing quite good resistance to the disease; I had never imagined that I would see an Ash like this again.
Workman's Wood was managed as continuous cover forestry by the late John Workman, who was a Trustee of the Tree Register. He donated to the wood to the National Trust; it is also part of the Cotswold Commons and Beechwoods National Nature Reserve.
A Door Opens...
At the Tree Register, we try to update the records of exceptional trees, especially the national Champions, every decade or so. But sometimes it takes much longer to revisit out-of-the-way places and, occasionally, our volunteer recorders are given access to gardens and estates which haven't been visited by tree measurers for half a century or more.
This month, Brian Jones, Gareth Bowen and myself visited the garden of Garnons in Herefordshire, following in the footsteps of Alan Mitchell in 1969; the trees that we found included this ancient Pedunculate Oak, built into the Repton-period garden wall. The tree is hollow on both sides with a gap big enough to squeeze through, and the outer side is fitted with a door. Recent attempts by the tree to heal itself mean that you can no longer actually open the door, and we were only able to get the tape measure around this one by the happenstance of Brian and Gareth arriving at the tree from inside the gardens just as I reached it from outside them.
The 'Postern Oak' is one of hundreds of new County Champion and remarkable trees discovered during 2018. Members can explore the details of all of them inside this site.
Newsletter coming soon!
Our latest newsletter will be posted to members very soon, inc:
Registrars Report on 2017
7th European Champion Tree Forum
Sandringham House Gardens
Lecture at Borde Hill