Tree cheers for ancient park

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An ancient and historically important walnut tree at Lydiard Park, destroyed by high winds three years ago, will live on thanks to the efforts of keen gardener Mike Critchley.

The former Ray Chem plant engineer explained that he had collected a walnut from the 300-year-old tree when he was walking through the park with his young son a number of years ago.

He planted the walnut seeds in pots and they grew so vigorously that he was then able to transfer them to his back garden where they developed into saplings.

Estate and properties manager Stuart Webb explained: “The original walnut tree was thought to have been the fifth largest in the country. It was also important because it would have been planted as part of the overall scheme for the garden when it was created.”

He explained that the Lydiard team wanted to replace the tree but had to carefully consider the context of how it would be placed in the landscape. The team looked at ways to continue the Walnut line through propagation but sadly, although there had been some regrowth, the long term prospects for its survival were not looking good.

However Mike Critchley got in touch, having heard about the dilemma and offered a replacement tree.

Stuart Webb, Estate and Parkland manager said “We are indebted to Mike, and his son of course, for their generosity and horticultural prowess. We hope that in the year 2217, we will be interviewing their descendants to reflect on this amazing story and on the family’s lasting connection with Lydiard Park.”

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