As Benmore Botanic Garden undertakes critical work to help safeguard its historic Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) Avenue, we are taking a moment to reflect on what has been achieved so far, and the support that has made this possible.
Described as one of the finest entrances to a botanical garden anywhere in the world, the magnificent Giant Redwood Avenue is in desperate need of innovative actions or risks being lost to the nation through climate change and disease.
The Avenue was planted in 1863 by the wealthy American James Piers Patrick, and lined the original driveway to Benmore House. These trees, native to California, were among the earliest to reach British shores when the species had only just been introduced to the outside world. This makes Benmore’s 49 redwoods some of Europe’s oldest and tallest, reaching up more than 50m high. They are still young at 158 years old, and have the potential to grow for millenia like their counterparts in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
However, due to a combination of soil compaction and increased rainfall in recent years, trees are now showing signs that they are now existing rather than growing. Benmore’s Curator Peter Baxter observed, ‘Their crowns are thinning and many lower branches are completely defoliated’. The situation is expected to worsen, with models from the UK Met Office anticipating increased rainfall and more intense storms in the region in future years, so work has begun to urgently address these issues.
Thanks in part to the support of the Younger Benmore Trust, work began in 2019 to assess the damage caused by waterlogging and compaction, and a thorough consultation process determined that improving and accelerating soil drainage would be the best way to reduce pathogen pressure and prevent waterlogging around these delicate giants’ roots.
‘Carrying out the programme of geo injection and air lance work requires a massive team effort from the Benmore horticulturists,’ explains Benmore Botanic Garden’s Curator, Peter Baxter. ‘With increased and heavier rainfall in recent years, this work is all the more vital.’
Following this guidance, the Garden is now undertaking a multi-year geo injection and air lancing project, which will be followed by the construction of a new central drainage raft along the entire grassed length of the avenue – all to benefit the long-term health of this unique avenue of trees. These practical and critical steps can be taken thanks to the combined support of community fundraisers, individual donors, and grants from the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority and Brown Forbes Memorial Fund.
Thank you to the Younger Benmore Trust, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority, Brown Forbes Memorial Fund, and everyone who has donated to support this vital work.
If you would like to make a donation to help safeguard the Giant Sequoias for future generations to enjoy, please visit rbge.org.uk/benmoregiants. If you would like to learn more about how to support Apprenticeships at the Garden, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.Donate to the Benmore Sequoia Appeal
‘Benmore Botanic Garden is very special place that our family has enjoyed for many years, with the most beautiful collection of plants and trees. Today, the Redwood Avenue, planted over 150 years ago is threatened and we risk losing these magnificent trees to the effects of climate change. All is not lost though, and with the help of science we can save this precious part of our natural heritage. By donating to the Benmore Avenue Project, you can help support vital horticultural interventions that will improve the health of these endangered trees, and ensure that they stand for many more centuries to come’.
- Emma Thompson & Greg Wise
‘Carrying out the programme of geo injection and air lance work requires a massive team effort from the Benmore horticulturists. With increased and heavier rainfall in recent years, this work is all the more vital.’
- Peter Baxter, Curator, Benmore Botanic GardenDonate to the Benmore Sequoia Appeal
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