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18 Sept 2019

Brodie bids farewell to favourite trees

Brodie Castle
Brodie Castle
Brodie Head Gardener Ed Walling explains why three beech trees have to be felled.

The team at Brodie Castle are bracing themselves to say goodbye to some estate favourites at the end of the month as three beloved beech trees are to be felled.

The ancient trees, which are on the front lawn at the end of the east Oak Avenue, have been fixtures on the estate for centuries but are nearing the end of their life and have to be taken down for everyone’s safety.

Head Gardener Ed Walling is responsible for looking after the designed woodland landscape at Brodie Castle, the ancestral home of the Brodie clan for over 400 years and in the care of the Trust since 1979. He has a keen interest in the beautiful trees on the 71-hectare estate.

Head Gardener Ed Walling with Brodie's beech trees
Head Gardener Ed Walling with Brodie’s beech trees

Ed said: ‘We’re devastated to lose three ancient beech trees. It’s always sad to see trees coming down but that is the best course of action for these beautiful beech trees. For me, the trees at Brodie are part of the collection just as much as one of the paintings or pieces of furniture in the castle. Unfortunately, we can’t “rest” the trees like the collection, which opens them up to pest and diseases.

‘The team do as much as possible to save felling trees but unfortunately there’s no alternative this time. Although we feel it’s a shame to lose such prominent trees within the landscape at Brodie, I believe this is a great opportunity to open up the East Oak Avenue as it would have been set out in the 1770 map that can be seen in the guard chamber. This will start to clearly mark out the three avenues that were set east, south and west.’

The three beech trees on East Oak Avenue are infected with Meripilus giganteus. Meripilus causes extensive root decay in broadleaves, especially mature beech, and is a major cause of windblow in beech trees. Decay can be rapid; at any sign of this fungus, the trees have to be immediately surveyed. Since the fungus kills and decays roots there’s sometimes a decline in the condition of the canopy of the tree although commonly there are few obvious signs and otherwise apparently healthy trees can fall over even in calm weather!

Ed added: ‘We’ll make good use of the wood that comes from them, and hopefully create a piece of sculpture that can add to the grounds here at Brodie as well as using the wood for firewood.’

There are woodland walks all around the estate, passing the beautifully landscaped garden, the pond and the shrubbery.