A belated blog on the tree surgery at Wimpole

Tree surgery

Tree surgery

Oh dear, it’s been quite some time since I’ve done my blog and it’s time to catch up from a few months ago…

One part of the estate team’s work is the continuing tree surgery- both for Health and Safety reasons and also to prolong the life of the mature and veteran trees at Wimpole.

One lime topped and six new ones

One lime topped and six new ones

An office day with a view

An office day with a view from the top of a walnut tree

This year it was just a good friend (Ben Bardell) and myself tackling it plus the odd occasional day with Cerian from the garden department helping out. As you may have guessed the work was carried out in early spring- March to be exact. That’s so we didn’t affect any nesting birds or roosting bats. There were certainly some stunning views from the treetops.

The English walnut with a rather large cavity

The English walnut with a rather large cavity

There was one particular walnut tree that had an unbalanced crown which needed to be reduced to make it more stable. However, on climbing up the offending tree, I came across a huge cavity that was not obvious from below. No chance was I climbing any higher! It had to be topped out at this point but actually this made it look a lot better and will hopefully allow the tree to live another fifty to a hundred years or so.

Reducing the extended Horse chestnut limb

Reducing the extended horse chestnut limb

 

Micro habitat rot hole

Micro habitat rot hole

Another tree was a horse chestnut and, although it had been reduced some years back, it was time to shorten the limb even more to prevent it from shearing off the main trunk. Of note was the water filled rot hole, a most suitable site for the maggots of the very rare golden hoverfly plus many other deadwood invertebrates. Just one of the reasons to retain these old veteran trees.

An oak in need of deadwooding

An oak in need of deadwooding

Of all the trees we did one stood out because of the damage done to the roots. It was an oak tree in the overflow carpark. It’s a sad fact that most trees in such situations do not tolerate the effects of soil compaction and vehicles parking near or under trees always produce a detrimental effect. The affected trees die back and the resulting deadwood has to be removed in high risk areas like the overflow carpark.

The cause, soil compaction

The cause: soil compaction

Sometimes the compaction can be alleviated by blasting the soil with jets of high pressure air to crack the soil and get oxygen back into the soil but it’s best to avoid having trees in carparks unless they have been ‘specially planned for.

A view to one of the largest oaks on the estate

A view to one of the largest oaks on the estate

Topping out some lime trees

Topping out some lime trees

Another area we had to do on grounds of promoting the trees’ lives was behind the Hall in the short North Avenue. Many of the lime trees here were showing signs of dieback in the crown which was probably a sign that the roots were not so well. Reducing the crowns by around 30% would /should allow the trees to retrench themselves and throw out lots of strong new growth.

Sycamore in need of some limb reduction

Sycamore in need of some limb reduction

We had a veteran sycamore tree to do in the North Park; again this was to prolong the tree’s life as it has many rare deadwood insects associated with it  (most notably the rusty red click beetle). However… I was rather alarmed to find a geocache box beneath the tree. Why was I alarmed? Basically, someone had put the geocache under a tree that had many hazards associated with it: alone in the Park and far from the madding crowd it posed no risk to passers by but, as soon as you encourage people to go under such trees, you have increased the risk of an accident happening. A golden rule of mine is to try to avoid putting seats, paths or things like geocaches under veteran trees or trees with hazards and these also tend to be the best habitats for bats, deadwood insects, birds etc.

 

Pollarded lime tree

Pollarded lime tree

Off up a lime tree

Off up a lime tree

It was never ending… tree after tree after tree and then the last few limes in the ‘One and a Half Avenue’. One tree was almost dead but we reduced it to a hulk leaving the limbs looking like they had been ripped asunder in a storm ( actually it’s called a coronet cut).

Lazy man down there!

Lazy man down there!

 

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A rather nasty tree with the top off

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The winch couldn’t shift the ash 😦

The last tree to do this winter was a rather large, nasty ash tree that had been blown over in a storm and had fallen into a smaller walnut tree. The six ton Igland winch couldn’t budge it so there was nothing for it other than to climb the walnut and begin the long and treacherous job of removing the canopy.

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One ash tree jobbed

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Removing the earth from the walnut stump

After clearing up the ash tree we winched the walnut out of the ground so as to keep the bole. Walnut boles and a short section of the trunk can be used to make very expensive shotgun or rifle butts/stocks but, alas, once we cut into the trunk we found that the heartwood was not sufficient enough- you win some, you lose some…

 

About Sadeik

You may ask why "Sadeik" well it means friend in arabic. Worked in Jordan a lot doing tree surgery you see. I have worked in forestry since I left school with a two years in Telecom. Went back to forestry and tree surgery as it may not have paid as much but was far more interesting and dangerous. Spent a lot of years mountaineering, caving and canoeing too. At 29 I went to Bangor University to study Forestry and soil science then did an MSc in Water engineering all very interesting. By a quirk of fate in 1995 ended up helping sort out the woodland and park at Wimpole, funny thing was then I only intended to stay six months or so, but 18 years later I'm still here learning all the time. That's the best bit, if I wasn't able to learn something new every year I would not have stayed and as you get older you realise that the grass is not so green in the next field after all. In fact my patch is getting greener while much of the rest is getting browner.
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