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Two rare elm trees may be saved in Scotland; and here is a little animal more of which might be useful on Vancouver Island!
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

October 16, 2016

Above,. One of the rare Wentworth elms growing in Scotland.
Image by Dr Max Coleman. Below a Pjne Marten,
image by Pixabay




Two items in a recent issue of HorticultureWeek, a trade journal published in the United Kingdom I found to be of interest and hopefully you will also. The first is about two particularly rare elms that are quite old and thought to be the only two in the U.K. Writer Gavin McEwan gives details about them and possible future plans to maintain the cultivars. The same writer also wrote about a cute small animal, the Pine Marten which it is thought could have an effect in controlling grey squirrels and deer, and if that is the case, maybe we should be looking into strongly encouraging an increase in their populations here on Vancouver Island!

Two grand mature trees in the grounds of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh have been identified as the last survivors of an elm variety that was thought to have vanished for good.

“For over a century the Queen’s official residence in Scotland opposite the Scottish Parliament has been home to the two 30m-high, 3m-girth Wentworth elms (Ulmus ‘Wentworthii Pendula’), characterised by tall stature, a weeping habit, glossy leaves and red-hued inflorescences in spring.

“Their identity was only established when experts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) conducted a survey of the grounds’ trees. RBGE science communicator Dr Max Coleman, who identified the trees, said: ‘It is very likely the only reason these rare elms have survived is because Edinburgh City Council has been surveying and removing diseased elms since the 1980s.

‘“Without that work many more of the thousands of elms in Edinburgh would have been lost. The success of this programme may be partly demonstrated in the way two rare trees have been preserved.

“Edinburgh retains nearly 15,000 elms thanks to a stringent policy of monitoring and felling those showing symptoms of Dutch elm disease, to which Wentworth elms are also known to be susceptible.

“While there is no historical record of the trees having been planted in the palace grounds, three Wentworth elms were acquired by RBGE at the turn of last century from the Späth nursery of Berlin. The most likely explanation is that two of them were then passed to Holyrood. A younger Wentworth elm at RBGE succumbed to Dutch elm disease in 1996, while specimens at Kew Gardens were also lost around this time.

“‘There was a close relationship between the palace and the garden in the early 20th century and the head gardener at Holyrood, William Smith, had trained here,’ Coleman added.

Despite its English-sounding name, the variety appears to be of continental origin, though it appears only fleetingly in historical records from the late 19th century. An RBGE publication suggests it was a hybrid of the Huntingdon elm (Ulmus × hollandica ‘Vegeta’) and Plot's elm (Ulmus minor ‘Plotii’), but this is disputed.

“The Holyrood grounds are maintained by Historic Environment Scotland (HES). Its park and gardens manager Alan Keir said: ‘The HES gardens team have undertaken careful maintenance of these specimens over the past several years, including crown reduction and limb bracing works, and we’re proud to help look after the only remaining examples of these trees in Britain.’

RBGE added that the option of propagating the trees ‘is being considered.’”

* * *

“‘Woodland and forestry managers have a material interest in seeing the pine marten re-established in England and Wales even if they are indifferent to conservation concerns,’ Woodland Trust sales manager Simon Wilson said at the (U.K.) Association of Professional Foresters show.

“Pine marten: can help control numbers of grey squirrels.

“The trust is a partner in the Pine Marten Recovery Project, which aims to restore viable populations to Wales and England. Last year it oversaw the first translocation of pine martens from Scotland to mid Wales. Their re-introduction appears to have a side benefit of controlling grey squirrel numbers, Wilson explained. "Greys will strip bark off young trees in the winter, but there are fewer of them where pine martens are present. People are asking me: 'Where can I rent one?' As a woodland charity we have an interest in this too.

“He added that native red squirrels, which are lighter and more agile so able to avoid martens, "are better for trees because they hibernate so don't get hungry in the winter - they leave trees alone", and also benefit from greys being controlled.

“On another candidate species for reintroduction, he added: ‘Lynx could keep deer numbers down, including muntjac, and so have knock-on beneficial effects on entire ecosystems.’ The Woodland Trust was among those consulted on the Lynx UK Trust's proposed five-year trial reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx to the Kielder Forest and Scottish Borders area.

“An online survey in March showed support for the proposal among the nearly 10,000 respondents at more than 90 per cent. The proposal's net benefit - reductions in crop and forestry damage by deer plus the creation of tourism opportunities - has been estimated at more than £30m. The risk to sheep farming has been described as negligible.”


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