Bristol-based company took its name from the tree that flourished across the country but the species was totally decimated by Dutch Elm disease. Within a few years in the early 1970s almost every Elm tree had been wiped out in the UK.
But over the past 30 years Hampshire based company Hillier have been planting a new Elm tree, that has proved Dutch Elm disease resistant. Ulmus (elm) ‘New Horizon’ is a ‘Resista’-elm species.
Now Hillier is aiming to expand the presence of this glorious elm by planting a number of elm stands throughout Great Britain; giving a new generation of nature lovers the chance to see elms once again.
A new campaign for Hiller, called, “Re-Elming the British Countryside”, was unveiled at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show when Adam Dunnett, sales director at Hiller Trees, handed over the first sapling of the campaign to Dame Judi Dench on ‘The Stihl Hiller Garden’. This sapling will be one of the 20 planted at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Hillier hopes to encourage more organisations and individuals to work with them to establish stands, plantations and even woods of the disease resistant elms throughout Britain.
“It is unlikely that many people in Britain under the age of 60 will recall seeing a stand of mature English elm trees” says Adam, sadly, the few remaining examples still growing in isolated sites around the country remain highly vulnerable to Dutch elm disease, which attacks them as they begin to reach maturity.
Hiller have developed an elm tree that fills the environmental void left by the demise of Ulmus ‘minor var. vulgaris’ and hope to see it widely adopted around Britain.
Elmtree Managing Director Paul Lynch says “given the name of our company and that while our company blossomed in the early 70s while the Elm trees across the UK died we thought that it was only fitting that we supported this campaign to help see our countryside thrive once more with our Chairman and Founder Keith Lynch’s favourite tree”.
Keith Lynch set up Elmtree Garden Contractors in 1969 when originally working as a firefighter with Avon Fire Brigade, in those days many firefighters would take on second job that they could do when they were not working during the day. Keith and another Fireman, Earnie, decided to start a landscaping gardening company and thus Elmtree Garden Contractors was born.
Keith already had good knowledge in working in the land and loved the outdoors. He had a background in farming and from the ages of 12-19 before he joined the fire service he had carried out some turfing work for a famer in the area now known as Cribbs Causeway, Bristol. So for Keith landscaping was an obvious choice.
When deciding on a name, Keith and Ernie were in a back room in Keith’s house in Kingswood, Bristol, thrashing ideas around. They decided upon the name Elmtree. The Elm Tree (latin name Ulmus) was a popular tree native to Britain. This was in the days before the species was decimated by Dutch Elm disease, but Elmtree Garden Contractors did not suffer the same fate. It continued to grow and grow.
They started by picked up a couple of commercial contracts for housebuilders and some grass cutting contracts for Bristol City Council. Ernie was however promoted to a more senior position within the Fire Service which meant he had to work days for a year, so Keith bought out Ernie’s share of Elmtree.
The rest is history. Paul Lynch worked for Elmtree during his school holidays, and joined Elmtree after finishing his A-Levels. He then went to Pershore College for a year and completed a National Certificate of Horticulture, with Distinction. Paul then joined the company full time and is now Managing Director.
Paul is keen to support Hiller in its campaign particularly because of the important environmental benefits that the new tree hosts the butterflies and insects that inhabited and fed off the traditional elm. Although we cannot replace it, Paul and Adam both believe that Ulmus ‘New Horizon’ can fill the gap and we will be able to see them back in our countryside over the next several years.
“Ulmus ‘New Horizon’ is a fantastic tree that can tolerate almost anything you throw at it, from floods and pollution to poor soil and frost. It is extremely hard waring and suited for urban locations including housing developments, car parks, central reservations plus rural avenues or woodlands. It will also thrive in coastal spots so is a fantastic tree to get back across Britain.
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