Our four copper beech trees are a recognisable feature of the Caerphilly Miners Centre and add to the grace of our building. The trees are between 60 and 100 years old and there are tree preservation orders on all of them. Trees are important for the wellbeing of our environment and community. The gardening group members feel responsible for sustaining them for future generations. We were concerned about the health of one of the trees and so bought in Arborist Julian Wilkes to advise us. Three of the trees look healthy, but the tree we were concerned with lies at the lower end of our raised beds. This area was left with rubble from demolished buildings and the tree has suffered accordingly. Julian and our gardening volunteer Janet Cornwall discussed the state of the tree. Julian informed us that the tree has around 8 metres of root system surrounding it and these roots need protecting from the weight of compacted rubble. He listened to our plans for shuttering the terraces and suggested that we amend our plans to create either a Gabian Wall (stones to stabilise the slope) or a ‘no cement’ wall with stakes driven down at intervals rather than a continuous trench foundation.
Julian also looked at the other three trees. Two posed no cause for concern, but the big tree near the old bus shelter shows early signs of a fungus Ganoderma (the white on the picture above). This will eventually weaken the trunk. We learned that the copper beech crown of the tree had been grafted onto a beech tree and this had also caused weakness leading the trunk to become enlarged. This tree could have another 30 years of life ahead of it, but we were advised to consider planting new copper beech trees or allowing the saplings to develop.