In times of uncertainty, you can count on Barcham.

During these times of uncertainty one thing you can put your faith in is Barcham’s commitment to Bio Security. As part of our work to gain accreditation for ISO 14001, Bio Security has been an integral part of our Environmental Management System. We have a robust Policy and Procedures in place to ensure we play our part in reducing the threat of pest and disease to our Environment.

This was highlighted last year with a visit from the Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s visit to the Nursery to see our controls first hand.

During this visit he commented “I have been incredibly impressed with Barcham’s commitment to biosecurity and also the fact that they are producing some beautiful and iconic trees which will ensure that across the UK that people will have access to natural beauty.”

This is something which really does live and breathe at Barcham. As we continue to drive our Environmental focus our in-house procedure for Bio Security is already on version 3 as we continually improve our controls.

Leaving the Nursery following his visit Mr Gove also commented “I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit. When Lucy Frazer MP told me to come here, I knew that I would be visiting one of the most fascinating and impressive nurseries’ in the world”.

Being a relatively new recruit to the business this is certainly something I have felt 1st hand, and one of the reasons I am proud of our commitments as a business to Bio Security and the Environment. You can find the full article HERE


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Tilia cordata Winter Orange

We have just lifted our next crop of Tilia cordata Winter Orange for containerization into our 55lt, 65lt and 100lt patented Light Pots. This rare but beautiful tree is very scarce in the trade at these sizes and they have taken four seasons in our fenland fields to produce. They will be ready by September for next planting season. This year’s crop all sold out by October so if you want to reserve some you had better be quick! We are lifting about 20,000 trees across a wide range of varieties and sizes from our field this season, British grown trees at large sizes with known providence.

Tilia cordata Winter Orange is a medium to large tree with crown which is broadly oval at maturity. Being part of the Lime family, it is a tough performer, tolerating the rigours of the urban environment and a range of soil conditions including clay.


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Fantastic autumn colour today at Barcham!

This autumn has been superb for autumn colour at the nursery. Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer so often goes yellow but this year it is going a stunning red. This sustained display will go on for the rest of November, long after all the other deciduous trees have dropped their leaves.

Malus Evereste fruit is particularly shown off on the multi stemmed trees and these will stay on the trees until the new year, or until birds forage on them for much needed winter sustenance.

Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis Rosea is in full bud and flower which will go on for much of this month. This great flowering cherry gives flower in a garden when most other woody shrubs and trees are on the wane.

A good trick to pull off for any garden is to plant trees that offer interest at differing times of year so the garden has at least one start performer every month for you to enjoy. If you need any help on this, feel free to give us a shout!



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Acorn collecting time again

It’s acorn collecting time again and it has never been so important to select from UK providence trees with the occurrence of Oak Processionary Moth being so rife on trees from the continent. This time around we didn’t have to search far for our selection, The Barcham Oak is just outside our 35 acre road field and we have estimated it to be over 200 years old and maybe as old as 300. In oak terms this doesn’t sound too dramatic but in Fen terms it is quite remarkable. Much of our nursery site is below or at sea level and the area only became a reliable place to colonize after the fens were drained in the 1650’s.

So, in historic fen terms, this tree is quite a rarity and it set a bumper crop of acorns this time around, unlike one of my other favourites the Fotheringhay Oak which was completely baron this year after setting a great crop last year. This is often the way of old trees so we end up taking from various UK providence seed source over a ten year period.

The acorns are taken in their cups direct from the tree using a cherry picker so you have got to have a head for heights working here. By taking them from the tree when they are fully ripe, the acorns don’t suffer the damage of hitting the ground and we have them lined out in their seed frame the same day to avoid dehydration. In nature it is said that one seed out of a million gets to grow to a mature tree, like baby turtles scurrying down the beach not many make it to ultimate safety. By taking as many variables out of the equation as possible we should get about 700 germinations per 1000 acorns sowed and ultimately should have about 350 of these come through at harvestable size in about 2024. We shorten the odds considerably by right time, right place and in time.

Let’s hope these oak don’t have the worry about Oak Processionary Moth when they are older. Government legislation has recently come in to limit imports of Oak from the continent that carry the eggs from this horrid pest which carries a threat to human health. If this legislation is followed as it is written then no Quercus should be able to be imported from Holland as the pest is completely rife over there after its first sighting 16 years ago.



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Government action confirmed to curb the threat of Oak Processionary Moth spread

Further to our blog from two weeks ago the government has published emergency importation measures to stem the flow of Oak Processionary Moth. This legislation comes into effect on the 21st August. Details as per link below.

Quercus (Oak) must be accompanied by an official statement that:

(a) they have been grown throughout their life in places of production in countries in which Oak Processionary Moth is not known to occur;

(b) they have been grown throughout their life in a protected zone which is recognised as a protected zone for Oak Processionary Moth or in an area free from Oak Processionary Moth, established by the national plant protection organisation in accordance with ISPM No. 4;

(c) they have been produced in nurseries which, along with their vicinity, have been found free from Oak Processionary Moth on the basis of official inspections carried out as close as practically possible to their movement and official surveys of the nurseries and their vicinity have been carried out at appropriate times since the beginning of the last complete cycle of vegetation to detect larvae and other symptoms of Oak Processionary Moth; or

(d) they have been grown throughout their life in a site with complete physical protection against the introduction of a Oak Processionary Moth and have been inspected at appropriate times and found to be free from Oak Processionary Moth.

As Oak Processionary Moth is so widespread in Holland, having been introduced there about 16 years ago, I cannot think of a single nursery that will be able to legitimately supply Oak into the UK.

The message to the Landscape Architect, Landscape Designer, Town Planner, Landscape Contractor or Private Individual is clear. Buy pest free home grown trees that have not been imported for a quick turnaround. Ask for an audit trail of your trees to make sure they comply with legislation.

The fact that we as a nation have got to this stage means that the lessons that should have been learned from the importation of Ash Die Back Disease have not been taken on board by industry specifiers or private buyers. Imported trees with Ash Die Back resulted in an Ash ban with no Fraxinus being planted for the past 6 years and counting. Hopefully this Government action on Quercus (Oak) is not too late.

The looming threat of Xylella fastidiosa is on the horizon, when are we all going to wake up to the fact that importing plant material is a dangerous activity? There are great examples, namely Australia, New Zealand and the USA where biosecurity is regarded as paramount and public awareness is backed up with fines and legislation to enforce. In our view this seems a sensible way to proceed.


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For the sake of the UK’s iconic tree genus, buy British grown trees

We visited Holland a few weeks ago and it became apparent that Oak Processionary Moth is massively infested over there. We saw the pupating nests in every village, town, city and roadway we travelled through and we did an extensive tour of the growing areas. The caterpillars of this moth are hazardous to human health in that when they are threatened, they project their hairs which, if inhaled, can bring on symptoms akin to a severe asthmatic attack.

Oak Processionary Moth is already in the London area and the authorities are battling against the spread of this pest. This insect was brought in on imported oak from the continent and government agencies are very worried about its spread. So far the London area is the only one effected and protective zones (ZP status) have been recognised in the rest of the UK where the pest is not present.

As a result of our information gathering and first-hand experience we have decided not to import any Quercus (Oak) from the continent this season as we deem the risk to the country in terms of the spread of this pest is too high and we are urging other nurseries or consumers to follow suit. Fortunately we have good numbers from our own field production to pull from. Oaks that have been grown from acorns collected from UK providence trees. We are not alone in terms of home grown Oak production. There are plenty of nurseries that grow this genus in this country so the reliance on importing and specifying pest threatened stock is annoying to say the least. Stock from the continent can come in with Oak Processionary Moth eggs which are very difficult to detect by eye so the propensity for error is great.

BBC Gardener’s World touched on this issue a couple of weeks ago with an interview between Adam Frost and Prince Charles at Highgrove detailing the latter’s awareness of this threat to the UK tree health as a direct result of importing trees and plants. Well worth a watch on ‘catch up’. In fairness Prince Charles has been advocating action for decades and it is only now when the threat has intensified that his views are being taken into account. The great thing about the exposure brought about by this programme on BBC2 is that it was viewed by over 2 million people. We have been trying to raise awareness for this topic of Biosecurity for years but our voice only reaches a limited circle of enthusiasts.

Ash Dieback disease is old news and means that no Fraxinus (Ash) has been planted in the UK for over 6 years and the threat to our indigenous stock in terms of decline is almost certain. This disease was spread about from trees imported from the continent . It is so depressing that the lesson has not been learned and now the UK now faces a new and ongoing crisis with our most iconic tree, the English Oak. I live in hope that the outbreak in London can be contained and that specifiers and consumers can be alerted in time to raise awareness for this pest to be kept across the channel and not spread to us.


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Does your tree hydration bag fail to empty?

I’ve been using the same Tree Hydration Bag for ages and this year its stopped emptying on its own. This is probably due to the fact I have filled it with river water and bits of detritus have clogged it up from within… Or microbes and wood lice etc have gunked it up from below. Anyway, do not despair, you can still carry on using them, just pin prick the base to start the flow again but make sure the new holes are from underneath rather than from the side as it will discharge the water horizontally instead of down into the soil by the rootball if not. Also, if your bag is on a slight slope, prick it up the slope so the water then runs towards the root system.

You can carry on using these bags for years with a little intervention of this kind, a great way to water trees, whilst also providing rabbit and herbicide protection as well as suppressing weeds.


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Having leaf issues?

Every year is a challenge for a tree!

The animal kingdom has evolved around the plant kingdom and leaves are predated on by mildews, blotches, insects, birds, grazing mammals and even us. Without leaves supporting the huge array of animal life dependent on them for their survival it is likely our species would not be here today. So a few aphids or caterpillars, mildews or scabs are a very natural and balanced event in the overall scheme of things. However, some things can get out of hand. Crab apples for example can suffer terribly with a fungal apple scab which can pretty much defoliate a tree and make them look miserable all season long. Malus floribunda and Malus Tshonoskii are particularly susceptible so we major on scab resistant clones such as Malus Rudolph and Evereste. Black bean aphid can easily mount up huge populations on cherries with their leaves distorted and sucked dry to shrivelling point. At this time it is all too tempting to fall back on a chemical solution to kill the pest causing the problem but beware, this sort of intervention can also wipe out predators just as easily. Ladybirds thrive on harvesting aphids but the population of the pest has to grow before the predator can react to balance out the problem.

In our experience, intervention breeds more intervention with trees so if you can leave them to their own devices so much the better. If you go in with a spray too early in the lifecycle of the pest the balance between predator and pest can never be reached and you will have a dependency on chemical control that may not helpful to the environment. This advice is all well and good until you are faced with an eyesore in your own garden so it is ultimately your judgement call!

The longest day is soon upon us and a tree’s physiological responses are already thinking of the autumn soon after this point. By September a deciduous tree is ready to jettison its leaf canopy in a few weeks anyway so it stops protecting itself from mildew attack. Looking at this from the tree’s point of view, there is little point in investing in a leaf that is due to fall off soon. With this in mind the late summer leaf canopy can look tired but there is no need to worry, it is likely it is the natural swing of things.

Each year will bring different challenges but over the long term trees will endure most things that nature can throw at them and support our ecosystem in the process.


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