Horticulture Week story triggers return of elms to historic Bosworth battle site

An Horticulture Week story about a tree grower who is introducing disease-free elms back into the UK has led to a new tree-planting scheme in Leicestershire that could see the tree re-established in the county.

Bosworth Field battle ground now has English elms on it for the first time since Dutch elm disease wiped then out in the 1970s.

Council forestry team leader Nick Fell bought the common English Elms (Ulmus procera) from King and Co Nursery in Essex. Kings propagated them from mature trees that appear to carry a genetic resistance to the disease.

Fell said: "I contacted Paul King after seeing a Horticulture Week story (18 September 2009). We have a tree planting initiative in Leicestershire, which is good when belts are being tightened. If people don't try, they don't find anything out, so we bought 12 and planted them in country parks where they can be tended and maintained."

The initiative may be extended to schools in Leicestershire next year, added Fell. The trees cost upwards of £100, but Fell said they were worth it if they returned landscapes to how they were before Dutch elm disease.

Fell's tree management strategy showed tree census data produced by the Forestry Commission in 1998 that recorded a 52 per cent reduction (80,000 trees) in individual landscape specimens in rural areas of Leicestershire since the 1980s, resulting from Dutch elm disease, hedgerow removal and other tree disorders such as ash dieback.

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