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Brighton Elm Trees
The celebrated Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1775), while a lover of fine forest trees, apparently detested the treeless
Brighthelmstone Downs (Brighton) and was prompted to state
“The place is truly desolate and if one had a mind to hang oneself for
desperation at being obliged to live there, it would be difficult
to find a tree on which to fasten a rope” .
The Sad Demise of a Preston Twin
Commenced in the early 1970s, such has been a success of the City’s Elm Control programme, that while saving thousands of mature Elms and making the City holder of the National Elm Collection many residents are unaware that the Disease remains endemic and causes losses annually.
This fact is only highlighted when a tree of major importance is infected and sadly this is the case again. The ‘Preston Twins’; two English Elms, situated in Preston Park, Brighton have existed for some 400 years and are considered to be the oldest living Elms in Europe and by some, the World.
Over the years these hollowed trees have been carefully pruned to prevent an over heavy canopy damaging the delicate trunks, they have also been subjected to Elm Disease infection in the past. Early pruning out of the infected limbs have saved the trees, until now.
Ariel infection by Elm Bark Beetles carrying the fungus has now seen one of these historical trees lost to the landscape. The hot weather has assisted by making the trees system work energetically causing the fungus toxins to be pumped speedily around the tree and into the root system, making remedial works impossible. A very sad loss.
Residents can still help overall by checking their own and neighbouring trees for browning /yellowing of leaves in otherwise green canopies and informing the City’s Arboriculture Dept. Elm trees in private ownership are removed free of charge as part of the Councils Elm Control Programme.
Similarly, if you have logs delivered the Council will inspect free of charge and if any one is of Elm species (which will allow Elm Bark Beetles to spread) they will then remove these and supply a more appropriate burning wood.
After tending to this tree for nearly 50 years its death is not only a great loss to the landscape but a considerable loss to me and my colleagues.