Advertisement
Advertisement

The oaks that are a fitting tribute to our armed forces

The beautiful pyramidal oaks in the summer at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The beautiful pyramidal oaks in the summer at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Richard Wright

[email protected]

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 13:00

HOLM oaks are one of those species that stands out in majestic maturity.
But it is so valuable as a screen, an effective windbreak or a topiary specimen. 
At Ventnor Botanic Garden, mature trees, which are resistant to salt breezes, shield the delicates in the garden from the harsh airs whistling their way off the English Channel.
In my little orchard, saplings planted only seven years ago now need topping before they blot out the afternoon sun.
Holm oak, otherwise known as evergreen oak — Quercus ilex — is very forgiving when transplanted as a sapling and, despite its sail-like canopy, is pretty bulletproof.
How often do you see a holm oak uprooted? Compare that with its native cousin, the English oak Quercus rubus.
The holm oak, and how to use it, came to mind when I saw the beautiful pyramidal specimens a decade after the Armed Forces Memorial was dedicated in the presence of the Queen at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire in October 2007.
The oaks were diamonds in the rough when they were planted and supplied by Barcham Trees to encircle the memorial.
They are now clipped into majestic circular columns standing as an evergreen sentinel at this nationally significant focal point for remembrance, honouring members of the armed forces killed on duty or as a result of terrorism.
Barcham’s David Johnson said: “It seems incredible it is now ten years since the holm oaks were planted and we are delighted they have proved worthy of their position in this important place. 
“Even while they were still on the nursery in their formative years, they formed a dramatic feature, impressing many of our visitors.”
The trees that form such an important part of the memorial really were the cream of the crop.
Liam O’Connor, the architect for the project and designer of the landscape setting, and David selected more than 50 trees individually before they underwent a rigorous cultural programme on the Cambridgeshire nursery to meet Liam’s exacting specification.
He also produced a drawing during the memorial’s construction to show how the maturing trees should be pruned during their first decade in situ.
The National Memorial Arboretum (www.thenma.org.uk) is situated in Alrewas, Staffordshire (use DE13 7AR for satellite navigation), close to all Midlands motorways. It is an evolving woodland landscape, featuring 30,000 trees and more than 350 memorials. 
The 150-acre site serves as a living tribute to those who have served and continue to serve the United Kingdom.
The evergreen oak is easy to propagate, grow and prune, its foliage maturing from whitish silver when young to dark green leaf when mature.
The main irritation with Quercus ilex, apart from its vigorous growth, is that, although evergreen, it will shed its leaf in summer.
It will readily self-seed and the best way to get hold of some is to look out for saplings that most certainly will have developed near parent trees.
Acorns can be sown in a cold frame or seedbed as soon as they are ripe in the autumn.

 


Advertisement
ISLE OF WIGHT TRAVEL
Travel filler
ISLE OF WIGHT WEATHER

Now6℃

15:00

6℃

18:00

5℃

21:00

4℃

00:00

4℃

ISLE OF WIGHT TRAVEL
Travel filler
ISLE OF WIGHT WEATHER

Now6℃

15:00

6℃

18:00

5℃

21:00

4℃

00:00

4℃

ISLE OF WIGHT TRAVEL
Travel filler