National Trust Dyffryn

Cowshed launches National Trust Wales’ Celebration of Trees

National Trust Wales protects dying champion to launch autumn tree celebration.

It may be tough to be a tree in the 21st century but the National Trust in Wales is today (21 Sept) calling on people to celebrate and protect its much-loved trees in Wales.

As thoughts turn to crisp woodland walks and spectacular autumn colour, the National Trust in Wales’ Celebration of Trees not only hails the arrival of autumn, it also aims to raise awareness of what can be done to care for and protect some of the very special trees in their care.

From Bodnant Garden’s Treefest to Erddig’s apple harvest in the north; Powis Castle’s giant 300-year-old yew tumps, spectacular autumn colour at Dinefwr or the towering Wellingtonias at Tredegar House in the south, there will be plenty to see and do to make sure visitors have a #treemendous time over the year’s most colourful season.

To mark the opening of the celebrations, National Trust Wales has embarked on the process to preserve one of its greatest trees, the champion Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple) at Dyffryn Gardens.

With its beautiful copper red bark, the Acer griseum is a well-known and beloved garden plant, but few are as special as the one in Dyffryn’s arboretum. DNA tests and historical accounts suggest that the maple comes from original seedlings brought from China by plant hunter Ernest Wilson in 1901.

Identified by the Maple Society as one of a handful remaining in the UK from Wilson’s original expedition, Dyffryn’s Acer griseum is nearing the end of its life and the garden team are making efforts to safeguard its genetic line through harvesting seeds, before it stops producing them all together.

Head Gardener at Dyffryn, Chris Flynn, said: “From research and extensive documentation on the origins of the Acer griseum, we have very good reason to believe that the one standing in the arboretum dates to the early 1900s, which sadly means it might not be around for much longer.

“The tree is still producing a small number of seeds so we want to germinate the ones that remain to try and hold onto the heritage of our champion Acer. Today we have collected seeds from the bottom of the tree by hand which have been taken to the nursery to germinate. The viability is low, but with enough seed we should get some success, although they can take up to two years to begin growing.

“As part of the conservation effort we will also be carrying out decompaction works, reducing competition from weeds and grass and carrying out some remedial works on the tree itself to try and increase the lifespan of the tree. This is all part of our commitment to developing the arboretum over the next five years for future generations.”

To celebrate the life of the Acer griseum and the start of the celebration of trees, Dyffryn offered arboretum guided tours, hands-on sessions for visitors to help with the construction of the new wild play area in the arboretum and the chance to meet the Cardiff Beekeepers Club and find out about trees and pollination.

Justin Albert, Director of National Trust Wales said: “Autumn is always a fantastic time to get out and explore the rich and varied landscape of trees and woodlands as they transform to the vivid colours of gold and rust.

“We hope our visitors will be inspired by our rare and historic trees, autumnal activities, tree tours and celebrations at our special places during the Celebration of Trees. You are never too old to enjoy the crunch of a woodland carpet under your feet or marvel at the leaves falling from the trees.”

For more information on Celebration of Trees events near you, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/a-celebration-of-trees-in-wales-this-autumn.

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