Tuesday, 8 February 2011

An Old RELIC Puts in an Appearance

In the 1970's Dutch Elm Disease killed millions of Elm Trees across the country.  Overbury was no exception with many trees succumbing to the disease.  We have a field called 'Elm Piece' which once hosted many many hedgerow Elm trees, now there are none.  Most British Elms produce suckers  rather than seed and once those suckers reach a certain size they too succumb to the disease.

For reasons not fully understood a very old tree from Comberton survived and under a project called RELIC (Replanting Elms in the Countryside) cuttings were propagated from this 'mother' tree, producing young vigorous 'nurse' trees which we have been able to get hold of.  It will take many years to us to see if the off-spring have inherited the parents restistance.

Derek and Gordon have planted 6 of these trees around the farm.  Here they are having planted one in the Park opposite Silveril House.  If you come to our Lambing Day on the 17th April, you will be able to see this tree for yourselves, as well as the excitment of the new born lambs and the game keeping display.

The first job to do was to site the trees, we put 3 in the parkland and a further 3 in hedgerows dotted around the farm.  They were sited where they would not be shaded from other trees or hedges.  Once the site was found the guard was put uppost frame was erected, rabbit fence dug in and also a pipe put down below the rooting zone so that we could water the trees during dry periods.  I put this pipe under the roots to encourage those roots to go deeper in search of water.  Once the tree was planted, with lots of mushroom compost, to provide nutrients and water retention, garden weed matting was laid over the ground to reduce competition from weeds.  Finally a stake was hammered in and the tree attached, oh and a spirral rabbit guard for 'belt and braces' protection.
The end result is shown here (with it's name tag), not the end of the project by any stretch, there will be watering during the hot weather and next winter we might need to start prunning (depending of the summer growth).  If you are interest in the project then have a look at the Kemerton Conservation Trust and follow the link.  Big thanks to John Clarke who was  one of the founding members of the project and who sourced our trees.  I hope to be able to lay my hands on some more trees and maybe Elm PIece will live up to it's name again.

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