Historic Parks and Gardens

Keston, Kent

In 2015 we were approached by a representative from a residents association that formed as a result of a large development of private housing built on a site with a long history dating back to the times of former Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger 28 May 1759 – 23 January 1806.

Holwood House, designed by Decimus Burton and built between 1823 and 1826 is a Grade I listed building and its grounds are on the English Heritage Register of Park and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. Most famously known for the location of an Iron Age fort known as Ceasar’s Camp, and the location of the Wilberforce Oak where William Wilberforce notified Pitt of his intention to bring forward abolition of slavery to the House of Commons.

The Wilberforce Oak has since died and its location is demarked with an iron fence adjacent to a stone seat, but the remainder of the 200 acre site is littered with veteran Oak trees of a similar age to that of the Wilberforce Oak.

For many years, the entire site was owned by Seismograph, who carried out some routine maintenance work to the landscape, however no work was ever carried out to the vast stock of veteran trees resulting in a number of failed lapsed pollards and a loss of extremely rare and important tree stock.

Under new ownership, the residents committee are dedicated to bringing these important trees back into a management regime, and we have been fortunate enough to be awarded the contract to survey and compile a management plan followed by the next ten years of associated tree management in order to restore and protect the future of as many veterans as possible.

This task began just a few weeks ago with the halo release of a newly discovered Oak amongst dense Holly undergrowth. As well as halo releasing this tree, we carried out some very sympathetic high canopy ring barking in order to reduce crown weight and replicate the natural stag-horning effect of a retrenching crown. All Holly stumps were treated with glyphosate in the form of EcoPlugs in order to mitigate soil contamination to the delicate veteran.

The plan moving forward, is to tag, GPS plot and survey each veteran within the next eight weeks, and begin delivering an individual management plan for each tree based on extent of decay, canopy size and the need to halo release (ground based and high halo) dependent on their location.

Figure 1. Halo release work around veteran Oak

 

Figure 2. Large area of bolling on Oak stem