Churchyard Nature Note with Andrew Tompsett

September 2015

A good year for trees

Whatever the holidaymakers and gardeners may say 2015 has been a very good year for tree growth. Some of our young churchyard trees have put on as much as a yard of new growth whilst the weight of foliage on some of our older trees has bowed down the branches much lower than ever before. This is something which must be attended to this winter otherwise many of the new pathways will become inaccessible. Another job which falls due this autumn is to arrange the visit of our tree expert to inspect our trees for safety.

Our regular two-yearly inspection is due this autumn and Tretec, Scorrier will be asked to do it again. It is of course very important that all our churchyard trees are safe, although there is no 100% guarantee that a winter storm will not loosen or split one of them but the inspection will seek any suspect ones so that they can be dealt with before they become hazardous.

It was in 2004 that Tim carried out his first inspection following Rev. Mike Kippax’s realisation that the Rector was responsible in law for any injury occurring as a result of unsafe trees in his ‘patch’.

The inspection consists of checking every tree for internal rot or any other defect and this is done by an expert using a rod to probe any holes or cracks and by using a hammer to sound out any signs of hollowness. Sometimes the presence of bracket fungal growth on the trunk indicates the presence of fungus inside which may be rotting out the heartwood.

One of the most significant consequences of the tree inspection was the discovery 8 years ago that one of our large Evergreen Oak trees at the front of the church was rotten inside. After felling, which cost us over £1000, the full extent of the hollowing was visible and the stump can still be seen near the front gate. Meanwhile this old stump has sprouted a new shoot which is itself becoming a significant tree. This new shoot will be closely watched to ensure that it remains firmly fixed.

The second large Evergreen Oak about 15 metres distant appears in good health despite having a fungal bracket on its trunk. This tree will also be closely examined again soon. It is probably a tree which dates from the time when the new church was built so it is an important feature and worth retaining, provided it remains secure and healthy.