The Return of the Elm
Look at the paintings of John Constable and you’ll see lots of English Elms. Sadly most of them are no more as they were devastated by Dutch Elm disease in the 1980s. At our previous house, we had several large specimens and I can remember the day they all came down. We’d tried everything that we could to save them, but you can’t resist nature.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about the English Elm.
Ulmus procera Salisb., the English Elm or Atinian Elm was, before the advent of Dutch elm disease, one of the largest and fastest-growing deciduous trees in Europe. A survey of genetic diversity in Spain, Italy and the UK revealed that the English Elms are genetically identical, clones of a single tree, the Atinian Elm once widely used for training vines, and brought to the British Isles by Romans. Thus, the origin of U. procera is widely believed to be Italy, although it is possible the tree hailed from what is now Turkey, where it is still used in the cultivation of raisins.
But, we still have some English Elm in this country and they seem to be resistant to the disease. This seems to be surprising, if they are all genetic identical, so perhaps they are not, or there is another factor.
The Conservation Foundation is now distributing elm saplings to schools, that have been grown from this possibly disease-resistant strain of English Elm.
This is the sort of initiative that we should all support.
Incidentally, some years ago, I met David Bellamy, one of the founders of the Conservation Foundation. One of my companies had won a green award.
He was not as I expected, in that many media experts are full of their own ego and never listen to your point of view. I found him to be very much a listener, who made some extraordinary incisive points, that many would not accept.
He is very much a maverick and we need more thinkers like that. They may not always be right, but challenging them often produces a train of thought and a result, that is infinitely better than a conservative approach.
I always describe myself as scientifically green.
The English Elm project ticks all the boxes, as those children in thirty years time will want to take their kids back to their school to show their children, their elm trees.
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