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Tree of the Month

This month, our tree specialists at Glendale Civic Trees recommend the largest tree in the world by volume, Sequoiadendron giganteum Wellingtonia.

Where does it grow?

Sequoiadendron giganteum Wellingtonia is a species of Cypress native to California.  It is found in a limited number of groves across the iconic Sierra Nevada mountain range at altitudes of 900 to 2,400 metres.  The tree was first introduced into the UK in the 1850s by Cornish plant collector William Lobb who was fascinated by this larger-than-life conifer.

The tree was given it’s British moniker, ‘Wellingtonia’  by John Lindley from the Horticultural Society of London after the then recently deceased Duke of Wellington.  Although this name has since ceased to be recognised botanically, it has remained as an affectionate term for this popular specimen in the UK.

Why is is cultivated?

In Britain, the tree was traditionally planted as a symbol of status and wealth amongst aristocrats and royalty.  They are now often the only lasting reminder of many grand country estates that once adorned the British landscape.  

In America, the naturally occurring giant redwoods in California are an ecotourism attraction, pulling in visitors worldwide for a glimpse of one of nature’s true giants.  It is also a flagship species for conservation.

What conditions does it prefer?

Sequoiadendron giganteum Wellingtonia likes well-drained soil conditions and thrives equally well in both exposed or sheltered conditions.  The tree is well suited to sand, chalk or loam soils.

What does it look like up close?

This tall evergreen matures into a dense, conical shape with down-swept, ‘shaggy’ branches, starting part way up its vast pillar of a stem.  The tree has red-brown bark with a unique spongy texture and its leaves are short and taper to a slender, stiff point.  It has oval-shaped cones that turn a deep red-brown at maturity.

Any distinctive features?

The Sequoiadendron giganteum Wellingtonia’s most distinctive feature is its size.  In fact it is so large that when it was first discovered in the mid-19th century many believed it to be a hoax.

The tallest specimen currently on record is an incredible 94.9 metres tall (taller than the statue of liberty) and can be found at Kings Canyon National Park in California.  However this isn’t the most well-known specimen, that title belongs to General Sherman, an 83.6m goliath that holds the world record for the largest known stem volume, a staggering 1,486 cubic metres of timber.   

Our recommendations

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, says: “This is a spectacular, long-lived tree, perfect as a feature in an arboretum or parkland area where there’s plenty of space for it to grow to its full, towering potential.  

“However, where Wellingtonia is perhaps at its most inspiring is when it’s used in long avenues, lining driveways or screening properties, echoing its natural tendency to occur in groves.  One of the most famous avenues, planted in 1863 and featuring Wellingtonia over 45 metres tall, can be found at Benmore Botanic Garden in Scotland.  

“When given plenty of space to grow without restraints this species thrives in the UK thanks to our temperate climate and the fact that it is a vigorous grower.  That said,  it takes up to 50 years for the Wellingtonia to reach 40 metres tall so we’d recommend planting a mature specimen to achieve the full impact of this giant in your landscape instantly.

“Finally, to answer a frequent concern about these trees, although they are a prime candidate for lighting strikes due to their size, the bark of the Sequoiadendron giganteum is actually fire resistant, an adaptation it developed in its native California in order to withstand forest fires.  They are also typically unaffected by storms and strong winds.  

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.  Did you enjoy this article?  Why not try January’s Tree of the Month here.


Tree of the Month

This month, our tree specialists at Glendale Civic Trees recommend the magnificent Magnolia grandiflora.

Where does it grow?

Magnolia grandiflora, from the Magnoliaceae family, is native to the south east of America.  In fact, it is so prolific in certain parts that it is recognised as the official tree of the state of Mississippi.  

In England the tree typically grows to around 12 metres tall, but some exceptionally large specimens, reaching a dizzying 37 metres tall, have been found in its native habitat.

Why is is cultivated?

The tree’s timber is harvested regularly and, due to its straight-grain and moderately heavy texture, it is used commercially to make furniture, doors and veneer.  Magnolia grandiflora is also very popular as an ornamental tree, grown for its attractive leaves and impressive, fragrant flowers.  

What conditions does it prefer?

Magnolia grandiflora prefers moist, well-draining soil, including chalky soils.  It does well in both sun and partial shade, and should be planted in a location that is sheltered from strong winds and frost.

What does it look like up close?

This impressive evergreen is pyramidal in shape and its foliage is dense and dark.  It has green, glossy leaves that are broad and ovate, with rust-coloured hairs on the underside.  The waxy coating on the leaves is thought to make them quite tolerant to salt and air pollution, making it suitable for urban sites.

Any distinctive features?

Aside from its dark, leathery leaves, this evergreen Magnolia’s most distinctive features are its large, goblet-shaped flowers.  The flowers are heavily fragrant with tones of lemon and vanilla.  

Our recommendations

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, says: “Whilst it is one of the hardier magnolias, Magnolia grandiflora is best planted in a sheltered spot if you want to encourage it to grow to its full potential.       

“I would recommend using it as a large, specimen tree in a sheltered garden or parkland where it can be admired for its showy flowers in the summer, and its glossy, dark green foliage in the winter.  However, it is important to remember that this tree has a slow growth rate and won’t reach its ultimate height for 20 to 50 years, so I’d recommend purchasing a mature specimen for more immediate impact.

“The tree can also be trained against a wall when you need to save space, or used in a row as a magnificent screen.”

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.

 


A potted history of the Christmas tree in Britain

The use of trees to celebrate winter festivals has been going on for thousands of years, but has become synonymous with Christmas in Britain since the Georgian times (1714 – 1830). 

In 1800, Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, introduced the first fully decorated Yew tree at Queen’s Lodge in Windsor.  

She brough the tradition with her from her native Germany where they have been decorating Yew branches at Christmastime since the early 1600s in celebration of the Feast of Adam and Even on December 24th.  The trees, which were often decorated with edible decorations, symbolised the ‘Paradise Tree’ from the Garden of Eden.

By the time of Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818, the Christmas tree tradition was firmly established in British society. 

Fir trees became popular replacements for Yews in the 1840s when Prince Albert imported a spruce for Windsor Castle.  In 1848, an illustration of the Queen’s Christmas tree was published in the Illustrated London News, helping to further popularise the Christmas tree tradition in the UK. 

Chris Mills, general manager of Glendale Civic Trees, comments: “For many people, the Christmas tree has become a symbol of hope for the new year and the future return of warmth to the earth.  It transcends most cultural and religious boundaries, and in fact, it’s a symbol that unites most northern European winter solstices. 

“As large tree specialists, we are involved in planting and relocating Christmas trees of all species, shapes and sizes for our clients across the country.  But my favourite has to be the Picea abies, or Norway spruce, the traditional Christmas tree species of the UK.  It might not be the most exciting tree when you compare it to Cedrus atlantica Glauca with its splash of winter colour, but for me it’s shape and texture echo the traditions of Christmas.”


Tree of the Month

This month, our tree specialists at Glendale Civic Trees recommend the magnificent blue-coloured conifer, Cedrus atlantica Glauca.

Where does it grow?

Cedrus atlantica Glauca, also known as the Blue Atlas Cedar, is native to the Atlas mountains of Algeria and Morocco providing a home for the endangered Barbary macaque.  

Why is is cultivated?

This robust conifer is commonly cultivated for ornamental purposes due to its aesthetic characteristics.  Cedrus atlantica Glauca is well known for its magnificent size at maturity, expansive, flat topped boughs and vivid blue foliage, which make it ideal as a feature tree in a large garden, arboretum or parkland.

What conditions does it prefer?

Cedrus atlantica Glauca thrives in a range of soils, but does not tolerate waterlogged ground.  It copes well in both winter cold and summer heat conditions.

What does it look like up close?

Growing to a height well over 20 metres, Cedrus atlantica Glauca starts life as a conical young plant, broadening with maturity.

Any distinctive features?

The most distinctive feature of this elegant evergreen is its short, silver-blue needles, which give the tree its iconic colour.  It also features barrel shaped cones up to 9 centimeters tall.  

Our recommendations

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, says: Cedrus atlantica Glauca is one of the most striking of all the blue conifers, and lends year round colour to a large open area.  It’s particularly effective in the winter months after some snowfall, which heightens the effect of the blue needles.

“I would recommend this tree as a feature specimen in a large garden, parkland or arboretum where there is plenty of space for it to be admired.  It’s important to be aware that this tree has a fast growth rate compared to other, similar species, and is deep rooting therefore requiring plenty of space.  However, once planted it will require minimal levels of maintenance in order to thrive.”  

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.


Tree of the Month

This month, our tree specialists at Glendale Civic Trees recommend the colourful Salix alba Britzensis for its vibrant orange and red winter shoots.

Where does it grow?

Salix alba Britzensis, or scarlett willow, is a deciduous tree native to Britain.  It is also found across Europe, and in western and central Asia.  

Why is is cultivated?

The modern demands for Salix alba Britzensis are for decorative purposes as a statement feature in a garden, or to make a screen that is visually appealing throughout the winter period.  Because the wood is light and strong, it can also be easily bent into baskets, fences and ornaments.

Historically, charcoal from the wood was traded for gunpowder manufacture, and the bark tannin was used to tan leather.

What conditions does it prefer?

The tree is tolerant of poor soil conditions and copes well with land that occasionally floods making it ideal for damp spots, coastal locations or river banks.

What does it look like up close?

The scarlett willow can reach over 12 metres tall at maturity, but after three years without pollarding the tree’s coloured shoots often fade.  As a result, these trees don’t often reach very high as regular trims keep them fairly low to the ground.

The tree sprouts it’s iconic coloured shoots between November and April.  In spring, these are framed by pollen rich catkins, and in summer soft, grey-green spear-like leaves appear.

Any distinctive features?

A variant of the white willow, Salix alba Britzensis is well known for its young stems which are a glorious array of reds and oranges.

Our recommendations

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, says: “On a clear, frosty winter morning the vibrant red and orange stems of Salix alba Britzensis are a wonderful sight.

“The species thrives under challenging conditions and, apart from regular trimming back, doesn’t require much management, making it ideal for a beginner gardener or someone looking for an elegant, low maintenance tree. It is a large tree though, so should only be planted where there is plenty of space and away from any buildings.

“Whilst large, specimen trees are available, in most instances we would advise planting a smaller, younger, tree as they are better value easier to handle and adapt better to poor conditions.  As a small tree Salix alba Britzensis should be planted between November and April as a bare root plant, rather than potted, as the larger root mass kickstarts their growth. Larger trees should be planted either rootballed or container-grown.”

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.


Preparing to relocate a tree? Glendale Civic Trees share their top tips

Marc Greenaway, operations manager at semi-mature tree relocation specialist, Glendale Civic Trees, shares his top ten tips when preparing a tree for relocation:

  1. Before commencing any work, I’d recommend carrying out a site survey to highlight any obstructions that will impede excavation works – at the original site and at the relocation site.  You need to look out for any issues with hardstanding, drainage, site furniture and changes in gradient.  
  2. Your site survey should also look for any services, both above and below the ground.  Belowground services can render some trees almost impossible to excavate, while overhead services can block the movement of lifting equipment such as tree spades.  I would recommend using an airspade to expose the roots if services are expected below ground.
  3. The movement of large trees requires the use of heavy equipment such as cranes, lorries and excavators, so it’s imperative to check the route between the original site and the relocation site for any overhead services, other trees, signage, structures like low bridges, and any other obstructions that approach the path the tree will take.  If there are obstructions on the route you intend to take it might be necessary to look at an alternative route or method of transport.    
  4. When you are surveying the relocation site don’t forget to consider the area in terms of soil type and drainage characteristics before you excavate a new tree pit.   Trees don’t typically like being in water, making drainage in the tree pit a major consideration.  I’d recommend making use of field drains to move any excess water away from the pit to a soakaway or watercourse.  Alternatively, you could move the pit to a higher location so the base is above the watertable.
  5. It is important to have a reputable company conduct a thorough health check on the tree you want relocated.  Relocating a tree is a resource-heavy process, and it would be a costly use of time, money and effort to move a tree that isn’t guaranteed to survive.  Our experts can advise you if a tree is unsuitable for a relocation project.  
  6. Before embarking on a tree move it is also advisable to check whether the tree can legally be transplanted.  Many trees fall within designated conservation areas, and some have been specifically protected with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).  This information can be obtained from the tree officer at your local council.     
  7. I would recommend root-pruning a tree before it is relocated.  Root-pruning encourages the development of new roots, which will better enable the tree to establish itself once it has been moved.  Root-pruning should be done in spring to allow the fibrous roots to grow over the summer period.  A good rule of thumb is to start root-pruning three years prior to relocation.  For example, root-prune one third of the final rootball diameter in the first year, another third in the second year, then the final third in year three.  If this isn’t possible I’d recommend lifting the tree with a larger rootball.  
  8. Where possible, it’s important to relocate trees during their dormant period.  This is typically between mid-October and March, although this does vary from species to species.  If it isn’t possible to relocate the tree during its dormant period, it’s best practice to avoid transplantation during a growth flush.  This is a spurt of growth that a tree undergoes typically during spring, but it can vary by tree type.  Speak to one of our experts about the dormant period and typical growth times for the species you want to move. 
  9. It’s critical to create the correct rootball size for the tree’s circumference.  A tree’s circumference, or girth, is measured at 1m above ground level.  If you use a tree relocation specialist like Civic Trees, they will be able to advise and create the best rootball size for your tree.Civic Trees operate the largest tractor-mounted tree spade in the UK, which is capable of creating rootballs up to 2.1m in diameter and can accommodate trees up to 90cm girth.  Trees over 90cm girth can be moved using our specialist Newman Frame© technology, which can create rootballs up to 4.5m in diameter.
  10. It’s essential that all newly transplanted trees are supported using a suitable guying method to secure the tree while its roots develop.  The method used can vary based on the morphology of the tree, but I would generally recommend a three or four-point anchoring system, using overhead wires to fix the tree stem at a suitable height.

Lastly, one of the most important aspects of any tree project, whether it be relocation or planting, is aftercare!  If you have followed points one to ten, and the tree has been moved successfully, the final step is to focus your attention on giving the tree plenty of support to ensure it establishes in its new habitat.  Aftercare includes a programme of regular watering, adjusting the guying system, fertilisation and pruning (depending on the needs of the tree).  

As part of any aftercare programme I would strongly advise checking the health of the tree at regular intervals in order to catch any issues quickly.  For example, leaf wilting is an obvious sign that the tree is in need of more water, whereas yellow leaves or sudden leaf drop is a sign of overwatering, both of which can be quickly remedied before it’s too late.

We offer a complete package of aftercare for transplanted trees – speak to one of our team to find out how we can help establish your transplanted specimen.  

We are currently in the peak season for tree moving, when trees are dormant. There is no better time than now to get in touch with us about your tree relocation plans.


Ten compelling arguments in favour of nature’s gift to man

National tree supply, plant and relocation specialist, Glendale Civic Trees, is calling attention to the basic but indispensable benefits of trees in a bid to encourage more people to appreciate these natural wonders.

If trees produced WIFI signals we might see a greater response to planting and reforestation projects, jokes Deric Newman, sales manager at Glendale Civic Trees. But his concern is a serious one, with humans cited as the biggest factor behind the loss of a staggering 15 billion trees a year.

Here, Deric shares some of the key reasons why planting more trees is vital to the continuation of human endeavour.

  1. First and foremost, trees are the lungs of our planet. They soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting as carbon sinks and using photosynthesis to convert the gas into glucose and, more importantly for us, oxygen.
  2. Certain trees are very adept at absorbing and storing harmful pollutants and degrading them into less harmful forms, making them extremely useful in relieving the negative effects of global warming.
  3. It’s not just pollution in the air, soil and water that trees can help alleviate, they can also act as effective sound barriers, reducing noise pollution particularly when planted at strategic locations around major roads and airports.
  4. Trees are also useful when it comes to preventing flood damage, as the roots help the soil hold large amounts of water that could potentially overwhelm low lying land.
  5. Tree roots act to bind the soil together and their leaves impede the impact of wind and rain on the soil surface, making them the ideal solution for managing soil erosion.
  6. In addition, trees are ideal for providing shade and much needed cooling in urban environments. A recent statistic suggests that the water evaporation from a single tree has a cooling effect equivalent to 10 room-sized air-conditioning units operating 20 hours a day, which means that trees planted in urban environments can reduce the need for air conditioning during the summer months.
  7. It’s been known for trees to increase property values by up to 25 per cent by lending maturity to the surrounding landscape and screening new developments.
  8. Recent studies suggest that trees also have an impact on behaviour. They can help reduce anti-social behaviour and crime by contributing to the creation of quality green spaces that encourage communities to spend more time outdoors and building stronger bonds.
  9. Further to this, there are no shortage of reports discussing how getting close to nature is considered one of the best ways of improving overall health and wellbeing.
  10. Finally, trees, particularly mature specimens, are a vital source of food and shelter for all kinds of wildlife, promoting biodiversity and boosting the local ecosystem. Oak trees alone are thought to support over 300 species of insect and plant life.

With so many benefits to us and the environment, trees are a natural resource we would invest in every time, and there is no better time to start planting, Deric explains. September through to November is the peak season for tree planting, because this is the time of year when the ground is in the optimum condition for roots to ground and grow before winter arrives.

For more information, contact Deric Newman on 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.


Tree of the month

This month, our tree specialists recommend the distinctive Liquidambar styraciflua for its fantastic autumn colour.

Where does it grow?

Liquidambar styraciflua is a large deciduous tree native to the warmer climate of the eastern United States and Mexico.  It’s also successfully cultivated in the United Kingdom and was first introduced into Europe in the 1680s by missionary collector, John Banister, and was planted in Fulham Palace Gardens in London.  

Why is is cultivated?

Liquidambar styraciflua was traditionally cultivated for its resin, or sweet gum as it is nicknamed, which is secreted from the tree if it is wounded.  The resin can be chewed like chewing gum and is also used in incense and perfumes.  It’s timber is used to make furniture and is popular for its close grain and red hue.

What conditions does it prefer?

This specimen grows most successfully in sunny spots and thrives in well drained, moist, neutral to acidic loam or clay soils.  

What does it look like up close?

Liquidambar styraciflua is a large, straight-trunked deciduous tree, reaching over 12 metres tall at maturity.  It has a symmetrical appearance and a heavy crown.  It has grey-coloured, fissured bark with a cork-like texture.  Between March and May the tree produces small flowers with rusty red hairy spikes and grows hard, dry, spherical fruit in clusters.  The tree features glossy, five pointed leaves which turn a vibrant red in autumn.  

Any distinctive features?

“The Liquidambar’s most distinctive feature is its glorious autumn colour,” Deric Newman, sales manager at Glendale Civic Trees, explains: “There are a number of cultivars which accentuate the autumn colour palette, and it was one of these, Liquidambar styraciflua Worplesden, which first attracted me to the species.  There was a wonderful specimen outside my room at college, in the village of Worplesden, Surrey.  The tree displays a stunning mix of yellow, orange, red, gold and even purple hues throughout the autumn and early winter months.  

“It was also one of the first trees that I moved by myself.  It is a beautiful tree, full of memories and a great way to say goodbye to the summer, as we look to the forthcoming winter months.”

Our recommendations

Deric continues: Liquidambar styraciflua grows quite slowly but can reach up to 45 metres tall so it’s not recommended for a small garden.  It works really well as a feature tree or to lend colour and texture to an avenue or arboretum.  

“It has crown spread of around eight metres making it an ideal tree for generating shade or as a windbreak in larger gardens.  Specimens grown in full sunlight in rich, damp soil will colour the best.”

To find out more about the tree of the month and if it will work well in your project contact our team: 0208 950 4491 or info@civictrees.co.uk.


Plant the right trees to combat climate change

Glendale Civic Trees, a national tree supply, plant and relocation specialist, is highlighting the importance of planting trees to help combat climate change.

The advice follows the unveiling of a new report at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, which revealed global warming is having devastating consequences on the world’s oceans resulting in the spread of disease in animals and plants.

Global warming occurs when the temperature of the earth increases, because of gases, such as carbon dioxide, which prevent heat from escaping from the atmosphere. It has been linked to extreme weather conditions and harmful effects on wildlife.

According to the report, which was compiled by scientists from 12 countries, more than 93 per cent of heat caused by global warming has been absorbed by oceans since the 1970s.

Glendale Civic Trees says trees can play a significant role in relieving the negative effects of global warming on the environment, but that it’s crucial the correct type is planted for maximum impact.

Chris Mills, general manager at Glendale Civic Trees said: “The benefits of planting trees are widely known, including environmental, social and economic. Trees soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, acting as carbon sinks and using photosynthesis to convert the gas into glucose and oxygen.

“Oceans absorb heat provided by greenhouse gases, but unfortunately there are harmful effects, as this latest research has shown.

“It is however important that the right type of trees are planted to help climate change, it has to be strategic. Broadleaved species – such as oak, beech and maple – are best because they have a larger surface area of leaves which generates more photosynthesis, whereas conifers absorb more heat.

“Planting a diverse mix of species will maximise the benefits of trees, as well as helping with conservation efforts such as insect and wildlife initiatives, and ensuring the landscape is better prepared for pests or diseases which could wipe out an entire species of tree in one area.

“As with all trees, they must also be well-maintained and healthy in order to function effectively. We’re now in the planting season, September to November, when trees are dormant and the ground is in the best condition for roots to grow ahead of winter. It’s important to capitalise during this period.”


Landscape supervisor wins Bat Conservation Trust award

james-shipman-award-for-website

A landscape supervisor from Glendale Civic Trees has been recognised for his outstanding practical contribution to bat conservation by the Bat Conservation Trust.

James Shipman, based in Watford, received the Pete Guest Award at the National Bat Conference, the biggest event in the bat calendar, for his dedication, innovation and enthusiasm in making a difference to bats.  

The Pete Guest Award is given in memory of Pete Guest, an influential figure in bat conservation for more than 20 years.  

James has been involved in bat conservation since 2010, he comments: “I have had the pleasure of being involved with a variety of projects over the years.  These include catching and ringing bats in Bath as part of a research project, helping out in Slovakia, both conserving and learning about their local bats, chairing the Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire bat group and running a variety of training programmes around Newbury in Berkshire.”

James also established and continues to coordinate a project in Gibraltar, Gib-Bats, which aims to educate the public and local government about the country’s bat population and discover new species.

James continues: “I enjoy working in bat conservation because I want to learn more about these fascinating creatures.  My main goal each year is to inspire and instill passion into at least one other person so that they will continue the work we do with bats.

“I was shocked to have been nominated for the award, let alone win it!  I think this award is extremely important because it stresses how essential bat conservation is, and also rewards those volunteers who put so much of their own time into bat conservation and research.  Without all of the people nominated this year we would know a lot less about bats, and also have a lot less bats around.”

The biggest threats to the UK’s bat population are cats followed by development work such as barn conversions and even the introduction of wind farms.   But there is a lot that can be done to conserve and protect them and James advises the best place to start is by contacting local bat or conservation groups for volunteer and training opportunities.  

“Bats are amazing creatures”, he continues, “did you know that a Pipistrelle bat, which is about the size of your thumb, can eat 3,000 mosquito-sized insects in one night?  That’s the equivalent of us eating about 300 chicken nuggets!”   

As landscape supervisor for the tree supply, plant and relocation arm of green service provider, Glendale, James is responsible for managing and growing the company’s landscaping activities, supporting the sales team and leading teams onsite to ensure project targets are achieved.  

He was formally presented with the Pete Guest Award on Saturday 3rd September.