The National Trust owns more old and significant trees than any other organisation in the UK including some of international importance such as the Tolpuddle Martyr’s tree or Newton’s apple tree and takes the responsibility of looking after these very seriously. The Trust spends significant resources every year surveying these trees and carrying out work to enhance their useful lives and many staff and external arboricultural consultants and contractors are involved with this. However for various reasons and no matter how important they are, it is not possible to keep all trees indefinitely but the need to make difficult decisions like the one to remove the Duke of Wellington’s cedar at Kingston Lacy are fortunately very rare.
The Trust believes that having carefully considered the advice of all those consulted on the future of this tree the complete removal was the right course of action from a landscape perspective because of its prominent place in a formal garden.
A large number of people were involved and there were a number of different views and options discussed over a period of time about what could be done to preserve the tree. To keep the tree in its location would have meant significantly reducing the crown of the tree.
In the end, the decision was made that the pruning would have adversely affected the tree’s appearance – and because of its important position in the historic landscape garden at Kingston Lacy, it would have had a detrimental effect on the views of the garden.
We fully appreciated the significance of the tree, as a 200 year old cedar and because it was planted by the Duke of Wellington – as well as for its importance within the historic and listed grounds of the house. We have done work on the tree for 30 years – since the Trust acquired Kingston Lacy and have always sought to extend its useful life in the garden at Kingston Lacy. We have monitored it carefully over the years.
But we accept that we may not have explained fully that the felling was because of concerns of the tree’s appearance as part of the historic landscape garden at Kingston Lacy if it underwent extensive surgery.
It was a difficult decision which involved contributions from many experts both within the Trust and externally and different opinions regarding the long term potential of the tree were proposed. While not everybody was in agreement, it was felt that the major surgery needed would have spoilt the appearance of the tree and therefore the garden in which it was a feature.
The National Trust looks after millions of trees nationally and we care about them and their location. By caring for our places, we think long term and some years ago we cultivated seedlings from the cedar tree which will be replanted in the same location, ensuring that, while this tree has been felled, its linage will continue in the garden to be enjoyed by future generations.