We are lucky to have access to expert advice. Charlie Erskine, one of our retired Trustees and a former Curator of the Arboretum at Kew (who had to deal with the aftermath of the famous October 1987 storm there) and David Knott, a new Trustee and Curator of the four gardens comprising the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, have both visited recently. Their main message is not to lose heart, simply work through the programme and remember that big machinery can do more damage than good, i.e. wait for the conditions to be right before bringing it in. We have, in fact, been very lucky with an unusually dry late winter and spring which has allowed us to make good progress with clearing up in the garden. We have taken the following steps:
All the paths in the garden and arboretum are clear and safe to use apart from the part of the Back Drive mentioned above, and a section of Sitka Spruce in the centre of the Long Walk which will stay closed.
We shall continue to deal with the work in-house; all the good contractors are up to their eyes in work but we hope to get some outside help (and machinery) early in the New Year.
We are getting a good service from our regular tree surgeons and they will be spending time here.
BUT, we shall not be in a hurry; it is all going to take a long time and we will only be working in the woods when the weather conditions are right in order to minimise further damage. The overarching message is that the interest of the plants comes first.
Development programmes in the garden have been halted for the time being. These will be restarted, probably early next year, even if it means extending the clear-up operation in outlying areas.