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Tree of the month – October 2016

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

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


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.  

Two new trees for Ascot enclosure

Ascot Racecourse has been given a new look thanks to two new trees planted by tree supply, plant and relocation specialist Glendale Civic Trees.

As part of a series of ongoing improvements, a £700,000 new unsaddling enclosure is being created at the famous horseracing venue in Berkshire.

A tree, which had been planted to mark the unveiling of a previous £200million redevelopment in 2006, was due to be relocated to the new enclosure, which is being made bigger to accommodate more horses and create a more comfortable environment for when they finish a race.

Civic Trees was commissioned to carry out the work, before the team on site determined the relocation project was unsafe due to unsuitable ground conditions.

Instead, the company sourced two large, semi-mature tulip trees, liriodendron tulipifera, which a team of four specialists planted, specially positioned to provide maximum shade for the oval lawn within the new enclosure.

Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, said: “This has been an important project requiring specialist knowledge and equipment, at a prestigious venue which often has all eyes on it when playing host to major sporting events such as Royal Ascot.

“After initially attempting to relocate the existing tree, a process cancelled due to concerns about the safety of the tree, members of the public and the horses, we worked with the client and main contractor to provide an alternative solution.   

“The overall result has made the area more visually appealing and completes the architect’s original design. Most importantly, the trees are going to result in improved conditions for the horses.”

Moving large oak trees

By Marc Greenaway

After moving many trees at a site in Shurlock Row with our 1400 metre tree spade, we were asked to move some larger trees which we felt would be better on our 2.1 metre tree spade.  The client then decided to test the water to see if we could go even bigger!

After a site survey by our general manager Chris Mills and myself we decided the only way to move the oak successfully would be to use the Newman Frame.  The advantage of the frame is a rootball larger than any tree spade in Europe can handle, giving the tree a beneficial start in its new location.

Four days of rootball preperation followed due to a number of services needing to be re-routed.  On day five we were ready to lift and, with the help of a 100 ton crane, we lifted the tree, weighing in at 22.7 tons, onto our low loader ready for transportation to its new home.

The tree was then carefully driven to the planting site on the low loader, unloaded into it’s new position and secured using overhead wire ropes.

The client was very pleased with the transplant and the professionalism of our team.

60 seconds with Kevin Tomlin

Kevin Tomlin has been with Civic Trees for only seven months, here he tells us about the piece of equipment he couldn’t cope without and his most rewarding experience with the company so far:

  1. How long have you worked for Civic Trees and what do you do?
    I’ve worked with Civic Trees for seven months.  My role includes grounds maintenance, tree care and line marking. 
  2. What do you enjoy most about your job
    Visiting all of the different sites
  3. What has been your most rewarding experience/biggest achievement with Civic Trees to date?
    Learning new skills and techniques on the job with the team
  4. What is the greatest challenge of your work?
    Learning how to plant the semi-mature trees
  5. How did you get started in the tree relocation industry?
    I was completely new to tree relocation until I got started with Civic Trees
  6. What advice would you give anyone wanting to work in the industry?
    Be prepared for hard but rewarding work
  7. What piece of kit could you not cope without in your day-to-day job?
    A spade!
  8. What’s your top tree planting or tree care tip?
    Give your newly planted trees plenty of water



60 seconds with sales manager Deric Newman

Deric Newman is the sales manager for Civic Trees.  Here he shares with us his earliest memories of Civic Trees and his top tree planting tip in 60 seconds.

  1. How long have your worked for Civic Trees and what do you do?
    My earliest memory of Civic Trees is from my childhood, being on site while my father (who started the company in 1963) and the team were moving trees.  My first ’employment’ was as a teenager, working at the tree nursery we owned at the time.  From there I progressed to working on projects while at college and univeristy.  I started full time in the summer of 1996.  I am now in the sales manager role. 
  2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
    I am part of a great team who are passionate about the work we do.  My favourite activity has to be a trip to one of our suppliers in the Netherlands to select trees.
  3. What has been your most rewarding experience/biggest achievement with Civic Trees to date?
    So many to choose from!  However a particular highlight has to be planting the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Avenue in Hyde Park. 
  4. What is the greatest challenge of your work? 
  5. How did you get started in the tree relocation industry?
    It was a family business
  6. What advice would you give anyone wanted to work in the industry?
    Be open minded, prepared to learn and to work hard.  Take pride in what you do.
  7. What piece of kit could you not cope withou in your day-to-day job? 
    Boring answer – my phone and laptop with some connection to the internet.  Holistic answer – my colleagues at Civic Trees and the support from head office.  
  8. What’s your top tree planting or tree care tip?
    Check the planting depth – match the level the tree was growing at in the nursery and watch the watering during the growing season. 

60 seconds with Marc Greenaway operations manager for Civic Trees

Marc Greenaway, operations manager for Civic Trees, tells us about his most rewarding experience with Civic Trees and the tools he cannot do without in his job in 60 seconds.

How long have you worked for Civic Trees and what do you do?
I have worked for Civic Trees since February 1999 (16 years). I organise the operations of Civic Trees from point of sale to the completion of jobs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the diversity of our operations and completing jobs that other companies have said can’t be done!
What has been your most rewarding experience/biggest achievement with Civic Trees?
My most rewarding experience has been working my way up from operative to operations manager.
What is the greatest challenge of your work?
My greatest challenge is delivering a high end service that not only stays within budget but also keeps the client happy.
How did you get started in the tree relocation industry?
Having worked in the landscape industry I felt a new challenge was needed and applied for Civic Trees via the local paper.
What advice would you give anyone wanted to work in the industry?
Join a reputable company, listen to advice and work to the best of your ability.
What piece of kit could you not cope without in your day-to-day job?
Kettle! Seriously, my monthly planning board!
What’s your top tree planting tip?
Plant at the correct depth and the most important of all tips is good aftercare.

Humans cost the world 15 billion trees a year

Tree supply, plant and relocation specialist, Glendale Civic Trees, is calling for more trees to be planted, following a new report which revealed humans are responsible for the deforestation of an estimated 15 billion trees a year.

The in-depth study, carried out by academics at Yale University, estimates the world’s tree population as three trillion.

Human activity has been cited as the biggest factor behind an almost 46 per cent loss of the world’s trees since the beginning of human civilisation.

 Although three trillion trees is more than originally anticipated, Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, says the rate at which they are being felled is alarming.

 “Sometimes tree felling is necessary, such as when a fungus disease is present, so it’s important to prevent spreading. But, often in these cases, new trees are planted elsewhere.

 “However, there’s no guarantee that when complete forests are cleared for timber or paper production or to provide land for farmland or housing developments, that new trees are always planted – and this needs to change.

 “There are countless environmental benefits to planting trees. They produce oxygen and act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as well as acting as effective sound barriers.

 “Trees are also useful when it comes to preventing flood damage, as the roots help the soil hold large amounts of water, while helping to combat soil erosion. They also help to create visually pleasing landscapes and increase the amount of green open spaces, which provide a place for communities to get together, as well as acting as a habitat for wildlife.

 “Other studies have found that trees have a significant positive effect on stress levels, with getting close to nature considered as one of the best ways of improving overall health

 “September through to November is the best time to plant trees, because this is the time of year at which the ground is in the right condition for the roots to ground and grow before winter arrives, so local authorities and commercial organisations must strike while the iron’s hot.”

Protecting green spaces in high street regeneration

Following the Mayor of London’s Action for High Street report published in July, Deric Newman, sales manager at Civic Trees, discusses the importance of treescapes and green spaces in high street regeneration.

The Mayor of London’s Action for High Streets report sets out the importance of making London’s high streets even better places to visit, live and do business in. In the report, the Mayor makes a worthwhile case for investment into our high streets and announces that £9million will be made available in the autumn for town centre improvement grants.

High streets play a vital role in sustaining our economy and their regeneration could accommodate new homes and jobs. However, when policymakers are deciding how to invest in public resources, it’s important that they do not overlook the importance of green spaces in urban tree planting.

A study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology reports that living in an urban area with green spaces has a long-lasting, positive impact on people’s mental well-being, and that access to good quality urban parks was beneficial to public health. Green spaces, treescapes and access to the natural environment can also encourage physical activity and active living.

The Mayor’s report highlights the importance of a welcoming and attractive high street, something that can be improved by treescapes, a well-maintained park, garden or green space. With this in mind, it’s important that investment is made not only into the development of treescapes or green spaces, but also to their upkeep.

Crowded city centres and a resurgence of urban living make finding room for green spaces difficult and I would like to see more incentives for developing vacant lots or run down spaces into green areas. It’s pleasing to read The Greater London Authority environment team is coordinating the Mayor’s Street Tree Initiative and Pocket Parks Programme. The Pocket Parks Programme is investing £2million into helping to establish small areas of green space on high streets, and by March 2015 the Mayor’s Street Tree Initiative will have spent £5.7million planting at least 20,000 trees.

Civic Trees has also completed the planting of more than 350 trees for the Mayor of London’s RE:LEAF scheme in the London Borough of Southwark.

With public resources often scarce, it’s crucial that schemes like these continue and are not overlooked. Our high streets are changing and they must adapt to new pressures and shifting habits, but it’s important that this is not to the detriment of the green space.