Hillier Hoping to Bring Elms Back to British Countryside with New Campaign
Dame Judi Dench launches the Hillier ‘Re-elming the British Countryside’ campaign at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
In the late 1960s, almost the entire UK population of elms was wiped out by the devastation of Dutch elm disease. This devastating loss of more than 30 million mature trees has meant a new generation of nature lovers has never had the opportunity to marvel at an elm growing wild.
“I can remember as a child seeing elms dying in my father’s garden and in the surrounding woodland,” commented Adam Dunnett, Sales Director at Hillier Trees. “Looking at the skeletons of formally glorious trees, it was one of the triggers which has made me follow a career in horticulture.”
Following this tragic loss of trees, Hillier has partnered with specialist elm breeders in the USA and Europe in order to develop a new, disease-resistant species. This work has led to the creation of a number of ‘resista’-elms.
One of the varieties of ‘resista’-elm; Ulmus ‘New Horizon’, is now grown by Hillier on our tree nursery in Hampshire. Over the last 30 years, as it has been planted in select locations across Europe and the UK, it has proven to be Dutch elm disease resistant.
An avenue of Ulmus ‘New Horizon’, grown by Hillier Trees, thriving in Cardiff Park
Campaign to Re-Elm Britain
Many years of propagation of Ulmus ‘New Horizon’ by Hillier has now meant the number of trees available on our nurseries has reached a reasonable level. We now hope to expand the presence of this glorious elm by planting elm stands throughout Great Britain, with a campaign called ‘Re-elming the British Countryside’.
The campaign was launched by Dame Judi Dench at RHS Chelsea Flower Show on Monday 20th May 2019. Dame Judi Dench is a passionate advocate for trees and spoke movingly about the loss of elms in her own garden when she was younger.
A stand of 20 elm saplings will be planted at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire in autumn, kick-starting the campaign.
Ulmus ‘New Horizon’ in Profile
Ulmus ‘New Horizon’ is a fantastic elm tree. Not only is it resistant to Dutch elm disease, but it can withstand pretty much everything you can throw at it – floods, sub-zero temperatures, inner-city pollution, poor soils, central reservations and salt-laden coastal roadsides.
This is a medium-sized tree, growing eventually to around 12 metres high, with one straight central leader. A dense conical crown shows even branches and upright twigs and the leaves are a dark silky glossy green. It grows best in a sunny or part-shaded position, in neutral or slightly acid soil, well aerated and with a good water supply. It can tolerate compact soils and is resistant to stress from traffic, wind and frost. It is also great for wildlife and is a host for the rare white letter hairstreak butterfly
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