Next week, the tree management programme on the school drive, Lime Avenue, will recommence and the remaining lime trees that have yet to be pollarded will be cut back in line with the other trees.
Land management, and in this case particularly tree management, is a topic that is not taken lightly at Dauntsey’s. We are located in a Conservation Area and recognise the importance of acknowledging the historical, cultural, ecological and landscape value of the trees in our grounds. We also are aware of our duty to be forward thinking in terms of preserving and enhancing the grounds for future generations and over the past ten years have planted in the region of 200 trees – many of which were donated by the DSPA.
At Dauntsey’s, the lime trees on the avenue were originally planted over 100 years ago. Traditionally no house, garden or estate with any claim to importance and style would be without an avenue of trees. Amongst other reasons, avenues were used to focus the eye on a particular feature, be that a statue, house or other point of interest. When they were planted, it is unlikely that much thought was given to how the trees would grow and mature over the coming years. Given the life cycle of lime trees is between 200-300 years, with a third of their life spent growing, a third in good health and a third dying, we are now in the phase of ensuring that we manage and maintain the health of the trees – this will mean pollarding the trees once every seven years.
The school has thirty-two trees along the avenue, all of which were standing at a height of between 17 and 24 metres. The intention is to reduce the height of all trees to 16 metres and create uniform height. Originally the trees were planted at 10-metre intervals, but as they have grown the top of the trees have become very close, suffering from a lack of light and therefore limited growth. The lack of light also results in a great deal of dead wood in the upper part of the tree, which raises safety concerns.
So, whilst the drive may look a bit bare on our return to school, we are content in the knowledge that these steps will allow for the retention and enhancement of the avenue, whilst importantly ensuring the safety of all on our school grounds.