Growers' collaboration helps battle against elm disease

British company promises a healthy return of Ulmus with help from US grower

Dutch elm disease decimated the Ulmus in the 1970s, but now a British company is promising the healthy return of the tree, helped by grower Riveredge Farms, based in Atlanta in the US. Owner Neil Lucas, of Knoll Gardens & Nursery in Dorset, said Riveredge owner Roger Holloway has discovered a secret technique for rooting the tree, rather than grafting it onto intolerant species, enabling commercial production. Seemingly disease-resistant elms have been found before and Micropropagation Services, of Leicestershire, is selling seedlings cloned from resistant specimens (HW, 28 August), but few growers claim their trees are as “tolerant” as Riveredge’s are. Ulmus americana ‘Princeton’ arrived in the UK in 2001 to be displayed at the Chelsea flower show. Gardening writer Roy Lancaster and Kew and National Trust gardeners encouraged Lucas to link with Holloway and grow on the tree for UK sale. Lucas said: “The ‘Princeton’ elm’s uniqueness stems from its original selection in the 1920s for its aesthetic qualities, not for its tolerance to Dutch elm disease, which was unknown at the time.”

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