Arboriculture is "high art of horticulture" says Titchmarsh

Arboriculture is the "high art of horticulture and life" and its practitioners "lions among men", according to Britain's most famous horticulturalist, Alan Titchmarsh.

Alan Titchmarsh used the 40th anniversary of arboriculture training at Merrist Wood College in Surrey to vaunt trees and tree experts.

"What a wonderful thing it is to be involved with the management of the lions of the countryside," Titchmarsh told a gathering of students and teachers past and present.

"Plants are the basis of natural history and it's astonishing how few naturalists acknowledge that. There isn't a square inch of land that isn't in some way managed.

"It's up to us to manage it and pass it on in better heart than we inherited it. Looking after, caring for and promoting the use of trees is the high art of horticulture and life."

Peter Bridgeman, first arboriculture lecturer at Merrist Wood, in 1968, said: "In those days there were no computers, no health and safety and there was no climate change: it was lovely."

Bridgeman praised a generation of arboriculture students who had reached the summit of work in teaching, research, private practice, local authorities or government agencies.

"Lions among men", he said, included Tony Harris, Colin Bashford, John Whitehead, Tony Kirkham, Don Robinson, Dick Ranger, Jack Kenyon and Quentin Nicholls.

Sarah Williams, director of the faculty for land management said: "Merrist Wood has trained over 10,000 arborists who practise across the world, bringing the college an international reputation."

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