Barcham passes it’s external audit for ISO certification with flying colours!

We had our yearly external audit review for ISO 14001 last week and the assessor gave our Environmental Management System a clean bill of health. No non conformities to procedure and no recommendations for improvement. This time the auditor also included an on-site audit of our landscaping team whilst they were on a planting job in Suffolk, before spending a day and a half scrutinizing our procedures here at Barcham.

Barcham remains the only nursery of its type to have ISO 14001 certification. For us, this environmental standard goes hand in hand with our product and what we are trying to achieve for the wider environment.

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What are the best trees to plant for carbon offsetting?

When thinking of planting the best trees for the environment, think in terms of the ones that live the longest and get the biggest. The bigger the tree the greater the carbon store it locks away to mitigate the effects of climate change. To allow these trees to fulfil their potential plant them 20 metres apart from each other in a free draining field that provides plenty of soil volume for them to exploit their full potential. We would also recommend putting a covenant on the land to prevent it from future development for at least 300 years. There is no point in making a big statement for the environment unless the fruits of your labours are protected long after you are gone.

Importantly, select a wide range of genus so if some calamity in terms of pest or disease besets one, the rest of your planting won’t be effected. The following trees can form the backbone of your carbon offset scheme. Shorted lived trees, such as Betula or Prunus can be planted in between them if you want a more instant day one look but fix your plan on them not being there after 50-100 years by which time the long lived heavyweights of the UK treescape can take over.

Acer pseudoplatanus, Sycamore 200-300 years

Carpinus betulus, Hornbeam 200-300 years

Fagus sylvatica, Beech, 300-400 years

Gingko biloba, Maidenhair Tree 500-1000 years

Juglans nigra, Black Walnut, 200-300 years

Liriodendron tulipifera, Tulip Tree, 200-300 years

Metasequoia glyptostroboides , Dawn Redwood, 200-250 years

Pinus nigra Austriaca, Corsican Pine, 300-500 years

Quercus ilex, Holm Oak 500-1000 years

Quercus robur, Oak, 300-500 years

Sequoiadendron giganteum, Redwood, 1000-2000 years

Taxus baccata, Yew, 500-600 years

Tilia cordata, Small Leaved Lime, 500-750 years

Tilia platyphyllos, Broad Leaved Lime, 500-750 years

Only 6 from our list are classified as UK natives and it is our opinion that ornamental trees play a massive part to play in future planting to create a mix diverse enough to cope with the rigours of climate change. There will become a time when future governments incentivise people for doing this type of planting. For now, know that it is the right thing to do if you have any spare land lying idle. A tree will really start to positively impact on carbon offsetting from about 30 years into its growing cycle, so this work is not for your benefit but for the generations that come after. What a legacy it would be if this thinking was adopted throughout the span of the UK.

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Trees are the only solution that can be agreed upon to help reverse climate change.

Climate change and how to halt it is finally beginning to gain traction. It is estimated that here in the UK we need to plant 50 million trees a year until 2050 to stand a chance of carbon neutrality. That is all well and good but maintaining these trees through their establishment phase to ensure they contribute to the cause is often overlooked. With this in mind here are a few tips to apply when planting a tree in your garden to make sure it thrives and makes a difference:

Never plant a tree deep. In nature a seed will fall to the ground and germinate in the spring with the root going down and the shoot going up. When planting a containerised tree the top of the compost should be at ground level, (with the pot removed), to ensure the roots are not deep within the soil profile. If you dig a as the soil consolidates so the emphasis is in width rather than depth. Tree roots want Oxygen and water blended in measure. Please look at this four minute planting video as a demonstration of how to plant a container tree.

Watch out for weed competition. Assuming your tree has been planted correctly into a soil that has been worked to give a viable structure, the best thing to do is water it in. Planting in the autumn and winter is always preferable for deciduous trees and root growth will consolidate even during the winter months if there is enough moisture and the temperature underground hovers above 10 degrees Celsius. However, by looking after your trees the weeds will also flourish. Grass in particular is very competitive when it comes to tree establishment so we would recommend at least a one metre radius around the tree should be kept completely fallow. This area can be topped up with a 5cm bark mulch to protect the soil from capping dry and to encourage a microbial exchange up through the soil into the mulch and back again, so maintaining a healthy soil structure. Try to avoid weed killers, this could be taken up by the tree as well and cause more harm than good.

Watering in the first growing season. The first taster we are getting from climate change is a shift to more extreme weather patterns. We get more intense hot spells and longer periods of drought, especially in the South and East of the UK. Trees have evolved to harvest rainfall so try and mimic this. A garden sprinkler does a good job to copy a cloud burst but this rate of application still gives time for the soil to grip the water so the roots can access it. I see little point in planting the tree in a load of plastic sundries such as watering pipes and root chambers as we are trying to mitigate carbon use not accentuate it. For its first summer, I would water your newly planted tree in this manner once a week. If you have a hose pipe ban then a good backup is our tree hydration bag which delivers water nice and slowly to the root system and surrounding soil.

With all this in play your tree should get away nicely and be a good contributor to lock up a little bit of carbon. Clive Anderson, an ambassador for the Woodland Trust, being planted in the UK. said we did not need a new ‘clever bit of kit’ to climate change as ‘that device already exists. It’s called a tree’.

It’s about all we can collectively agree on. Otherwise all that results from these environmental summits is paradoxically a load of hot air. Any worthwhile legislation to mitigate climate change is inevitably economically compromising so will not happen. Trees do not offend and do the job we cannot agree to fix.


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Barcham is awarded the Environmental Standard ISO14001

Over the last twelve months the management team at Barcham has set itself the aim of ISO14001 accreditation. We have looked at all levels within our business in terms of environmental aspects and impacts and set ourselves rigorous objectives and targets such as increasing our recycling levels and reducing the use of peat. We have looked at the business in its entirety, rather than just scope the parts of our operations that we can take an easy win from. Even our coffee machine came under scrutiny and is a good example of the environmental con that we are all living through. Every day we were feeling very cosy about disposing our coffee cups into the recycling thinking we were doing the right thing but it turns out that these ‘may be recycled’ items could not be recycled at all, certainly not in the UK anyway. So we ditched the machine for a traditional china cup option that can be washed up in perpetuity. The irony is that the machine that supplies these delivers a far superior coffee and even the pods that feed it are recycled.

But this is the way of it. The more we looked into it, the more savings we made in both economic and environmental terms. This standard has also brought the business closer together. Everyone has been involved and communication within the business has become so much more inclusive and worthwhile. Suggestions for improvement are no longer forgotten with time but are logged instead and fully discussed each month to assess. We collectively decided that we can do the right thing environmentally for our 200 acre business and if we choose to take this home to our private lives so much the better.

Our eyes have been well and truly opened. Retail outlets displaying recycling logos on their packaging are invariably misleading. It is trendy to appear environmental but the greening up of businesses still has a heavy pinch of corporate greed rather than doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing.

As far as we are aware Barcham is the only wholesale tree grower that has achieved ISO14001. We have incorporated our biosecurity policy and procedures into the standard and hope others will follow our lead on this.

ISO14001 is exacting and daunting in the first instance. It can give management teams palpitations in terms of perceived financial outlay to achieve. However it represents a cultural shift within a business and delivers very good value for money if embraced wholeheartedly.

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What trees should be planted to combat climate change & what can I plant instead of Oak?

With a much needed government ban on Quercus (Oak) imports coming in a few weeks ago, UK home production of Oak will soon be sold out in larger sizes. Oak Processionary Moth is unfortunately in the UK and will spread alarmingly unless landowners are extremely vigilant to eradicate it as soon as it is detected. At least no more infected imports should come from Holland, Germany or Belgium where the pest has reached epidemic proportions.

Good native parkland alternatives include Acer campestre (Field Maple), Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam), Fagus sylvatica (Beech), Populus tremula (Aspen) and Tilia platyphyllos (Broad Leaved Lime). The need for diversity is paramount to futureproof the threat of pest and disease which are often genus specific. Try not to depend on a single genus to account for more than 10% of your planting design.

A lot of us are fixated by planting native trees but with Oak and Ash off the menu it’s like trying to pick a cricket team with only 9 players left to choose from! Climate change, whatever Donald Trump says on the subject, is happening and our native trees may not be the best thing to concentrate on. They have evolved to thrive within a fixed set of parameters and this is swiftly altering.

To achieve a diverse mix of planting, design will have to include some non-native genus. These are well tested and known to thrive within the UK landscape; it’s just a question of using them sympathetically to match the location. Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree) makes a great city tree but may look rather out of place in a parkland setting. However, Ostrya carpinifolia (Hop Hornbeam) or Zelkova serrata would look absolutely fine if mixed in with our native Lime, Hornbeam and Field Maple in a rural setting.

Acer pseudoplatanus should not be overlooked as a non-native weed. It is hugely successful beautiful parkland tree and without it there wouldn’t be much of a treescape in the Lake District. (Anyway, who is to say it is non-native, there is strong evidence to suggest it pre-dates us in the UK by some margin but we are the ones making the rules…)

Another key thing to get a natural looking treescape right is to match ultimate sizes of trees in the diverse mix you choose. There is little point in coupling up a Hornbeam with an Amelanchier and hoping they will look good together over the longer term and visa versa. If you are after large canopy trees to fulfil an rural landscape pick native and non-native varieties that readily grow beyond 20 metres in height with similar crown habits. Similarly, for your smaller garden areas, concentrate on trees that only get to seven metres ultimately. Either way they are steadily contributing to the environment and gently offsetting what our genus is doing to that…

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Our last chance to protect the mighty Oak ….

A plea to all specifiers and buyers of trees from Mike Glover, Managing Director at Barcham Trees Plc …..

“A recent trip to Holland underlined the devastation that can be caused by Oak Processionary Moth in only a few seasons. Each adult moth can lay up to 300 eggs. In three years this moth could be responsible for 27 million offspring!

And the problem is I saw hundreds of thousands of caterpillars last week in Holland and they are heading our way, hitching a lift on imported Oak Trees. The infestation is so advanced in Holland, (and probably elsewhere on the continent but I am only speaking about what I have seen first-hand), that imported oak will have a greater chance of this pest being present than not.

So what’s the problem? We’ve all liked playing with caterpillars in the garden as children but this pest packs a punch. When threatened, Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars projects their hairs into the air as a defence mechanism. If these are inhaled it can trigger life threatening asthma attacks, vomiting, severe skin rashes and massive eye irritation.

DEFRA have recognised this threat and have put strong and good measures in place to limit importation exposure but they have to work within the confines of the free market and their efforts will prove wanting unless a complete importation ban can be implemented. Oak Processionary Moth is already getting a good foothold in South Eastern England with control efforts costing a fortune to try and stamp it out.

And all for the sake of short term commercial gain or more likely complete ignorance of the situation. I started blogging about this in November 2017 and we are still sleepwalking into a catastrophe for our iconic British Oak which will have a major impact on public health. Recent high winds in the Netherlands prompted the authorities to urge people to shut their windows and doors in an effort to stop caterpillars blowing into their houses.

So the message has to be loud and clear. STOP BUYING IMPORTED OAK. Instead buy from a UK nursery that can prove to you that these trees have not just been shipped in to complete your order.

The biggest problem is lack of knowledge. If you know of anyone buying trees please make them aware of this blog and similar articles online.

Thank you.  Mike

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Styrax japonicus June Snow

Styrax japonicus June Snow is a new tree we have added to our list this year and what a beauty it is! ‘June Snow’ is well named for its numerous white snowdrop like flowers which are in full display from the beginning of June.

We grow this tree as a feathered bush but over time it can be crown lifted to make a small tree. Its fragrant floral display contrast nicely with its dark green glossy leaves. It grows well on well drained soils but does not favour hard paved areas or compacted ground. Mature heights reach between 7-12m


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Why do my evergreens look sad in Spring?

The last time evergreens produced new leaves was in July so they have had to endure 9 months of wind, rain, hail, snow and drier than normal conditions over that period. A leaf is a transitory thing, the workhorse of a plant which converts sunlight into food and as it gets battered by the elements over time it loses its efficiency. The plant will look to jettison old i preference for new efficient ones and this happens between April and June depending on variety and weather conditions. If new vulnerable leaves are produced too early they can be hit by a late frost before they have had a chance to harden. If they are produced later than June the plant is missing out on improved light levels to nourish itself after its dormant season.

So this time of year your evergreens will be at their loebb. Nothing to worry about! It’s just the transitional stage between old and new. This is often more noticeable in younger plants than mature ones as there are less to start with in smaller plants.

The best time to prune an evergreen tree is in the spring, just before the new leaves emerge. This takes the hormone away from the outmost reaches of the canopy and redistributes it lower down making the resultant growth very bushy, ideal for screening. Ligustrum Japonicum reacts realls. We have just started our routine spring prune of Ligustrum japonicum and Ligustrum lucidum Superbum. If we leave them to their own devices they jettison their old leaves just before they bud up with new ones to take over. However, as the crown matures the outer edge of the plant is always denser as this is where the leaves are going to harvest the most sunlight. There is no point for a tree to produce leaves that will be shaded out by others. By pruning the crowns more light is able to get into the canopy and the bushier the tree becomes.

So the term ‘evergreen’ can be misleading, especially if applied to broad leaf evergreens. There is a transitional time when they benefit from a trim and when they are at their lowest ebb for foliage. Nothing to worry about, just nature’s cycle! If you order Tree Ligustrum this time of year (April / May) please expect them to be pruned and ready for action! They can be a bit alarming to see at first glance but this is the correct cultural way to process this plant to give you a great screening and privacy option above fence height.


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Good News!

We have just heard that our renewal for our Royal Warrant from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has been awarded for the next five years, taking us to the 31st March 2025. We remain very proud to achieve this award.

This year we are also looking to get environmental accreditation for ISO 14001 after a successful test external audit was carried out on our procedures earlier on last month.

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