Have you heard of the Great British Elm Experiment? But surely all England’s elm trees were wiped out by Dutch Elm disease years ago……. Or were they……..?
A handful of elm trees that managed to survive the dreaded Dutch elm disease, which had hit Britain in waves over the preceding decades, have been micro propagated in an attempt to reintroduce what was once a significant feature of England’s forests and gardens. The Great British Elm Experiment is a partnership between the Conservation Foundation, Thorp Trees, Trees Direct and various charitable trusts. Elms are propagated and distributed free to schools and non profit organisations, or sold to individuals and companies for a small cost.
Parent trees are all more than 60 years old so it’s known that they have survived Dutch Elm Disease, including one English elm (Ulmus procera), Wych elms (Ulmus glabra), smooth-leafed elms (Ulmus minor) and a Huntingdon elm (Ulmus x vegeta), The project was launched in 2010, the UN’s Year of Biodiversity, in the hope that a new generation of Britons can enjoy the magnificent elm.
As this week is National Tree Week in Britain, if you haven’t already bought yourself a (we hope) disease resistant elm, you can order one from Trees Direct for £19.50 (plus shipping). Trees don’t become susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease until they are 11 years old, so it’s important that all newly planted trees are monitored for a period of at least 20 years.