How does wind affect trees?

Wind can be a devil with trees, causing damage, and drying out of leaves; especially when the leaf is large and fleshy, such as in Horse Chestnut.

As a general rule, the more branches there are on a tree, the better the wind is diffused throughout it to keep the tree upright. Constant wind drag can lead to one sided effects, demonstrated by this coastal planting near Tintagel in Cornwall. The trees resemble the shape of golf clubs, forged by the constant battering from the coastal breezxe.

If you want to plant a tree in exposed windy areas, go for multi stem or feathered trees that are bottom heavy, rather than standard trees that are top heavy and blow about too readily. Even with the best intentions, it is extremely tricky to stake and secure standard trees with long clear stems in very windy locations. Sometimes, especially on coastal sites, you may have to admit defeat. Take a look at the surrounding landscape and see what type of trees nature will support in your area and in some instances planting small and working your way upward can be the only way forward.

Species selection in windy areas should also be considered in conjunction with form, some trees will tolerate being blown around far more readily; being adapted to the wind in either form, as mentioned above, or due to the physiological features they exhibit. Take care not to plant trees with excessively fleshy leaves, as these tend to be the first to be ravaged by the wind, especially during the summer months. Trees such as Paulownia and Catalpa fall into this category, in windy conditions their large fleshy leaves get torn about by the constant battering and as such the trees will never perform at their best.

As a general rule, if trees will tolerate coastal conditions, they will contend well with the wind. Please see our recommendations for trees that tolerate coastal locations for more information.

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Why are ants in my trees and shrubs?

We get a lot of calls about insects on their plants but don’t worry about it! In most cases there is a natural balance between pest and predator and without insects down at the bottom of the food chain our species wouldn’t be here! We tend to want to sterilise our indoor and outdoor space but this over hygienic approach can create an unhealthy imbalance. I was very troubled last week by seeing a bed of hidcote lavender in full bloom without a bee in sight. I planted about two square metres for them to prosper on but their decline is another result of human actions that will in turn bite us where it hurts further on down the line.

Ants forage on trees and shrubs for aphids which they squeeze like we would a tube of toothpaste. The sugars that the aphids are extracting from the plant are being milked by the ants for food. In simplistic terms, remove the aphids to remove the ants to remove the beetles to remove the birds to remove us! Don’t worry about the odd notch or blemish on your trees and shrubs, that is what they are there for. The animal kingdom needs the plant kingdom to feast on for the health of all.

Planting a tree creates a great habitat for innumerable animals on which to thrive. Spraying insecticides should be the last resort to avoid disturbing the natural balance within your garden. Easy to say if you have an infestation of Lilly beetle or black bean aphid but in the main nature can look after itself without our intervention.


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Water your trees!

With many trees receiving a great drenching from the rainfall overnight please don’t think this is sufficient to keep your newly planted tree going for long.

Trees planted last winter have had a tough time, especially in the south and east of the country where we have had only two meaningful rain systems go through in the last four months. With lawns turning brown, trees desperately need slow and sustained watering regimes to get them established and to tick over their vascular systems until they become dormant in the autumn.

It’s going to turn hot and sunny next week again, when you are reaching for a bit of liquid refreshment don’t forget your trees are thirsty too!!

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Chelsea Flower show 2017

We have moved position this year and now have the opportunity to feature a lot more trees on our stand.

The Chelsea Flower Show is a very vibrant event with thousands of people cramming the isle-ways to see the trade exhibits or show gardens. Our trees are everywhere! On trade stands, in Show Gardens, even down public walkways within benches to cast shade. If you come to Chelsea this year you won’t be too far away from a Barcham tree! Tonight is the gala evening where a lucky few get to view the show by invitation after the Royal viewing has finished. It’s been sweltering down here so the dip in temperature is very welcome. This year we are selling our third edition of our hardback reference book ‘Time for trees’ and offering advice on anything arboricultural for people who visit us on our stand.

If you are on your way down for this event we look forward to meeting with you over the coming week! Stand 81



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How do I get water to a tree miles from a tap?

Faced with this dilemma on a steamy Sunday afternoon with temperatures soaring to the mid twenties, I had to get water to a newly planted Quercus robur, English Oak, in my local village.

Usually a tree planted in January shouldn’t need watering before it leafs up in April but it’s been so hot and warm I thought it was in need of a drink. I couldn’t get water to the site as it would have slopped all over the place on the walk down to the field so I resorted to the slow release solid form, ice!! Even on the hottest of days ice will take several hours to melt and this gives time for the soil to grip the water where the roots can then access it. It’s a useful way to water trees and has served me well over the years!

It’s crucial for newly planted trees to be kept well hydrated until the longest day in June when root systems are at their most active. In really hot dry summers watering in July through to October is similarly very important.

Please water your trees!!


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What’s the best way to stake a low branched tree?

There are lots of different methods to plant a tree correctly and many of these can be modified to suit specific conditions and awkward specimens. Low crowned trees, sometimes known as feathered trees, are tricky as the branches can get in the way of the stakes. I visited one of our customers this week who had done a terrific job in planting an avenue of our Carpinus betulus Fastigiata around a sports pitch in Uppingham, Rutland. The stakes were installed at a slight angle away from the root system so that when they were fastened to the tree the tie pulled them into a vertical position and not pointing inwards towards the stem. This avoids any chance of damage later on down the line. He also put in three stakes making it very unlikely that a grass cutter could damage the stem of the tree in the summer. The mulch was pulled away from the collar of the tree and he marked the base of the stem with a blue line for the planting crew to get the planting depth spot on. Please click here for further information The stakes were short, two foot out of the ground and two foot in. A feathered tree has more stability than a full standard tree as the low branches act as wind diffusers and give the tree a lower point of gravity. All in all a great job done, well thought through and very well executed. I have no reason to think why these trees establishment shouldn’t be a complete success.

So often I see stakes put in without a thought process of what’s trying to be achieved. Stakes are to keep the tree solidly stable, not the other way round! We have produced a short video detailing how we like our trees to be planted and if they are done in this way you can expect nothing else but success! Please click here to watch the video.
One of our sales guys went to a site today and saw the reverse of this. He was called in to give his verdict on a line of Betula Jacquemontii that had failed from last season. They were not ours thank goodness but they could have been, with the result the same. The trees were planted far too deep, suffocating the stem and putting the root system far too deep down into the soil profile. At this depth the roots are in a saturated layer of soil devoid of oxygen. So easy to get it wrong but also so easy to get it right!!

For any further advise on planting a tree, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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Barcham Trees in the UK landscape

There are over 1,400,000 Barcham trees growing within the U.K. Landscape!

Our nursery has been growing trees for over 30 years and over 1.4 million of our instant impact trees are now planted within our U.K. landscape. So whatever city, town, village or garden you live by, you are never too far away from a Barcham tree!

Autumn is a great time to notice trees. I’ve just been to our local supermarket and saw a line of magnificent Liquidambar turning into their autumnal foliage display from trees we supplied about 10 years ago




This Acer griseum, supplied about 7 years ago is thriving in a village garden and fills its space beautifully with autumn foliage interest and year round bark interest.







Betula albosinensis Fascination is one of our favourites here at Barcham and this one, planted 14 years ago, is one of the first of this variety to be planted within the uk. It’s beautiful bark is stunning year round but this time of year it’s foliage turns a buttercup yellow to add to its appeal.






Betula utilis Jacquemontii remains the most popular of Birch’s we supply. Known for its gleaming white trunk from a young age, the Himalayan Birch is great as a multi stem or single stemmed tree. This one was planted 12 years ago in a garden in Rutland and it provides stunning year round interest.


We hope you enjoy your trees this autumn and we already have our sights on 2030 by which time we hope to have over 2 million trees growing away nicely in the uk. The acorn crop we collected this year will be ready for sale by 2025 onwards so we have already started the work!


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There was an interesting article in the Times by their Education Correspondent, Nicola Woolcock, last week. It mentions yet another tree genus that has succumbed to illness as a direct result of tree imports from Europe. Our country already has a huge Oak Processionary Moth problem in London but the moth affecting Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) is now rife all over the UK and severely debilitates its leaves via its young that eats them inside out. This then makes the tree more susceptible to other more menacing diseases such as Canker stain and the article refers to Stephen Woodward of the University of Aberdeen saying that these majestic trees will be ‘decimated in places and eventually most will disappear’.

So no more conkers on strings for our kids then.

Our nations biosecurity is under the most severe threat with nurseries bringing in plant material from all over Europe without any thought or checks as to what pest and diseases they may carry. We have been beating the drum for tighter biosecurity for years and was delighted to see a robust statement coming out this week from the Arboricultural Association urging the need for specifiers to source home grown plants to combat the threat of these nasty entrants. This statement has been endorsed by DEFRA, the Forestry Commission and the Royal Horticultural Society amongst others and is a real stride forward to curbing these damaging imports.


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Time for seed collecting

I visited the magnificent Burghley House in Stamford last week to collect acorns and sweet chestnuts from the superb ancient trees growing on the estate. This year Peter Glassey, head forester, showed me a Castanea sativa that is over 600 years old and the seed I collected from this tree will be ready to sell within our Heritage range in 2018 and as bigger trees in our instant impact range in 2023. Tree growing is a long term business! Built in the mid 1550s by William Cecil under the reign of Elizabeth 1st, this wonderful old tree was already over 100 years old when the estate took shape and it still thrives today under the care of Peter who safeguards these ancient trees from the needs of agriculture.

My criteria for collecting seed is simple. The parent has to be a magnificent specimen of great age which proves to me that it has withstood the rigours of our variable climate for many centuries. If a trees has withstood great freezes, floods, droughts, storm force winds and intense summers then its offspring will be made of stern stuff! I also select on seed size and like to pick straight from the tree rather than from fallen seed collected from the ground. My final criteria is patience. I last collected seed from a very ancient oak in Northamptonshire 4 years ago and it hasn’t set any acorns since. However the tree is such a belter that I visit in September one per year to check up on it, waiting and always hoping for another bonanza year!

The Quercus robur, English Oak, from Burghley are wonderful and the estate is also known for its great avenues of mature Tilia, Lime, that support lots of mistletoe. All the vistas and avenues lead back to the house itself which has a fairy-tale quality to it. It you make a visit I would also strongly recommend its Orangery Tea Rooms which round off my seed collecting days very nicely!

My thanks to Peter and the Estate for letting me collect seed from Burghley, it is always a great day out.


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