Historic, diseased tree to be axed from Sheffield garden

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A large beech tree which is at least 100 years old is to be removed later this month from Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens.

Sheffield Council says 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.

The fungal disease attacks the base and roots of the tree making it potentially unsafe and the council says ‘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.

Coun Isobel Bowler, council 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 tree is over 100 years old but nobody knows its exact age.

Around 100 trees were planted in the gardens during the restoration that was completed in 2005 and since 2010 additional trees have been added at a rate of ten per year.

Sue Kohler, of the Friends of the Botanical Gardens, said: “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.”