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As planting the new, semi-mature trees within Queens Gardens gets underway, here Liam Haggarty from Southern Green Landscape Architects answers some questions.

Q1 – How does the nursery look after the trees until they are ready to be lifted and transported to their permanent home?

The nursery maintain all their stock in accordance with horticultural industry standard guidance and good practice. This includes pruning, watering, feeding, weeding etc. as required. The trees are undercut every three years in the nursery, to ensure they maintain a healthy and compact root system, with plenty of fibrous roots close to the tree to support the tree when it is finally rootballed and relocated. Pruning also helps the tree grow in the first growing season after planting.

Q2 – When is the best time to plant trees and why are we planting them now when it’s cold?

The planting season is typically from November to March, when the trees are dormant during the cold winter months. Planting can be undertaken at any time of the year, however the best time to do it is during this period as it limits stress on the trees and maximises the chances of successful establishment.

Q3 – How long will it before we see visible signs of new growth?

We would hope to see some signs of growth within the first year or two, however this is likely to be limited while the trees establish a new healthy root system. Once established (hopefully from year three onwards), the rate of growth should return to normal in accordance with what you would expect from each species.

Q4 – What happens when a tree is dormant and what does dormant mean?

Dormancy refers to a period of time where a plant/tree or animal suspends or slows down its natural functions for a period of time. This typically happens during cold winter months. For trees this can be consider as the period of time between them dropping their leaves in autumn, to just before new spring growth becomes visible.

Q5 - Is it normal for the trees to look like this when they are being planted?

The current appearance of the trees is normal and as what we would expect at this time of year. As they enter dormancy, different trees lose their leaves at different times. This can vary significantly between species, but also vary between individual trees of the same species. The reason for this can typically be linked to microclimate from the locations where the trees were grown in the nursery. Trees that are in more exposed/colder/shady areas would typically shed their leaves in autumn earlier. Other factors can include soil conditions, moisture and pollution.

The first of 130 trees is planted

Within the next few weeks we would anticipate all of the trees will have lost their leaves, and as a result will have a more uniform and consistent appearance.

The larger trees that are being planted in the gardens have been prepared for this final process of relocation for more than 12 months by the nursery. Approximately 12 months ago, the trees were undercut (process of a tree spade partially rootballing the tree) but retained in their original locations. At the same time, the tree canopies were reduced significantly, to reduce the amount of foliage within the canopy.

The main benefit of this process was to reduce the demands from the canopy on the remaining root system. The other benefit is that by cutting the trees back they are encouraged to regrow more densely from the remaining branches which will ultimately result in stronger trees with a more uniform canopy shape.

If the canopy had not been pruned they would have been too big, and the root system (once root balled) would not be able to sustain the canopy, and ultimately the tree would suffer. These pruning works keep the tree in balance and give them the best chance of successful establishment and long-term health within Queens Gardens.

Take a look at the Taxodium trees being lifted from Ebben Nursery in the Netherlands here.