Thanks to an introduction from the adviser who is guiding us on the restoration of our arboretum, Tom Stuart-Smith we have been in contact with Martin Gardner at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh who is managing a programme to preserve species of threatened conifers from around the world. As conifers grow well at Eastnor, and we have a fine collection from the 19th century planting of Charles, 3rd Earl Somers, we have been lucky enough to be asked to plant a number of young trees grown from the seeds recovered from trees at risk as an outstation of the main botanic garden, making Eastnor part of a network of over 150 sites across the UK and Ireland contributing to this conservation effort.
In the attached image, Tom Christian is shown measuring the growth of a thriving specimen of Abies cilicica sub species cilicica which was planted last year and has enjoyed the recent combination of spring rain and summer sun. Details of the species and how it is threatened can be found on http://threatenedconifers.rbge.org.uk/taxa/details/abies-cilicica-subsp.-cilicica. Tom works closely with Martin Gardner and is Project Officer with the National Tree Collections of Scotland & the iCONic Project and has selected the trees for Eastnor, based on his observations of what has grown well here in the past. They are about to embark on a collecting trip to Japan, so perhaps we will benefit from the results of the trip in due course. They can be followed on the iCONic website mentioned above.
As over a third of the world’s conifers are under threat of extinction in the wild, it is a privilege for us to be able to join this ambitious conservation project, even though we are some distance from its epicentre in Scotland. Also, as I have also had many happy visits to Syria in the past and used to be a director of the British Syrian Society, I am delighted to be able to preserve an element of Syria’s natural heritage in what should be a safer place.
JH-B 8th Sept 2013