As many of us are aware, the population of British native elm trees was devastated by Dutch elm disease in the 1960s. Therefore, I felt particularly privileged to have been invited to join Hillier Nurseries and the National Memorial Arboretum at a special event to plant the first strand of elm trees as part of the Hillier re-elming initiative.
Following the loss of the trees, Hillier partnered with specialist elm breeders in the USA and Europe to develop disease resistant species. One of these, the Ulmus ‘New Horizon’, has been successfully planted in Europe and the UK for the last 30 years and has proven to be 100 percent disease resistant.
With a disease-free elm now available, Hillier – supported by Dame Judi Dench at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show – announced plans to encourage more elm planting across the country, allowing generations who have never seen an elm in the British countryside to enjoy the species’ majestic beauty.
It was therefore a real pleasure on Wednesday 27th November, for me to attend the landmark planting event for ‘Re-elming the British Countryside’.
Other special guests who attended the event included the Lord Lieutenant Ian Dudson and Chairman of Lichfield District Council Councillor Joe Powell. Following welcome refreshments, we listened to talks from both Hillier Nurseries and the National memorial Arboretum, before being taken to the elm stand site to watch the final tree being planted. We were also invited to join a guided tour of the Arboretum at the end of the morning.
It was a wonderful occasion and a privilege to be a part of. I would like to thank all those who made the event possible and extend my gratitude to Angel Ham and Philippa Rawlinson.
Furthermore, I wish Hillier Nurseries every success as it continues its landmark planting programme for the benefit of the British countryside, and us all.