23 September 2014

A large, diseased beech tree in Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens is to be removed later this month before it collapses and causes any serious damage.

The tree, which towers over the lower lodge in the gardens near the Thompson Road entrance, will be cut down as it is suffering from a disease called Meripilus.

This is a fungal disease that attacks the base and roots of the tree making it potentially unsafe and leaving it in place could have catastrophic results. Tree surgeons will spend a full day gradually dismantling the tree with a crane until it is reduced to a stump.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure said: “We are very proud of the superb variety of trees in the collection at the Botanical Gardens. Many of the trees are very old and some may be as old as the gardens itself.

“We do everything possible to look after the trees, but they don’t live forever and it is particularly sad when one of the oldest of them has to be taken down. We would only do this if the tree was badly diseased or in danger of causing serious damage if it fell, and this is the case with this particular tree.”

The gardens managers don’t know exactly how old the tree is, but it is almost certainly over 100 years old. It probably started its life growing outside the gardens. The section from the lodge to the present gates was only added in 1901, so the land where it is growing was outside the original boundary.

Occasionally large trees have to be been removed for safety reasons, but around 100 trees were planted during the restoration that was completed in 2005 and since 2010 additional trees have been added at a rate of 10 per year.

Sue Kohler of the Friends of the Botanical Gardens commented: “Perhaps 10 new trees a year doesn’t sound many for a garden that extends to 19 acres, but planting any more would fill up all the available space too quickly and either the trees would become over-crowded or the gardens would have to wait for more to be removed. Planting a few trees every year means that in 100 years’ time, there will be trees of all ages growing in the gardens and there will still be gaps for another 10 every year.

“The trees need to fit with the themed areas in the gardens and range from common species like beech and hawthorn to rarities from the far reaches of the world, such as foxglove trees and oriental planes. Many of them will still be here in 100 years’ time.

“It is a sobering thought that the beech tree being removed probably started life before any person on the planet alive today was born, but it is also cheering to think that, in 100 years’ time, people will gaze at the amazing oriental plane or massive weeping beech tree and wonder who was here when they were planted and what life was like.”

Ends

For further information please contact Warwick Toone, Media Relations Officer on 0114 205 3546 or 07764 659182. E-mail: warwick.toone@sheffield.gov.uk. For out of office hours media enquiries ring 07711 153995.