Island Life Magazine Ltd February/March 2007 - Page 39

COUNTRYSIDE & FARMING through a quite period before it’s attack in the early 70’s which all but destroyed our population of trees, only a handful of geographically safe places escaping its spread. Today’s disease is a mixture of the original fungus supported by a much more vigorous strain known as ‘Ophiostoma nova-ulmi’. Both can be retained in the roots of the dead tree that will produce suckers. This then spreads very slowly to the new trees and the process continues. More prolific is the spread of the disease through the large elm bark beetle ‘Scolytus scolytus’, and it is thought that this beetle has caused the disease to have spread so rapidly in recent years. The elm bark beetles breeds on dying elm trees with each set of eggs producing up to 30 beetles, taking flight in early May. The beetle flies carrying the fungal spores to the top of nearby elm trees to feed on young shoots, killing the tree from the top down. A dry hot summer compounds the problem allowing four or five generations of beetles to breed. The best way to conserve hedgerow elms is to keep them well trimmed, as prominent elms are more likely to attract the elm bark beetle. To stop the disease spreading by the root, try causing a break by cutting through the root at intervals. As further cycles of the disease are expected you may consider replacing the elm with other hedge or tree species. Remember to control the re-growth of any elm suckers that will appear as they are likely to be Top ten varieties suitable for the Island garden: Top 5 alternative hedge plants: 1. Hawthorn 2. Blackthorn 3. Field Maple 4. Beech 5. Privet Top 5 alternative trees: 1. English Oak 2. Ash 3. Hornbeam 4. Wild Cherry 5. Silver Birch only short lived. If you would like further information you can contact Tony Ridd at tonyridd@isleofwight.net. Island Life - www.isleofwight.net - life The 16th Island Hedgelaying Competition February 24th sees the popularannualHedgelaying Competition taking place. With over twenty competitors last year, the traditional country craft of hedgelaying on the Island is experiencing a mini revival. Three categories covering open (professional), novice and team sections compete to lay eleven yards of hedge in just five hours, trying to satisfy the critical eyes of the judges. Dick Pulleine, who has won the ‘Open Trophy’ for the last three years will, again be defending his title, that was hotly contested last year. New competition will be from Oz Hoskyns, the reigning Novice Champion who, having defended his title for one year now has to move up a category. This is a great opportunity for spectators to witness a country craft at first hand, getting up close and speaking with the competitors who are always only too pleased to pass on their knowledge. Dress up warm as the weather can be extremely cold. However help is at hand in the marquee where you can feast on hot drinks, beef rolls and my mum’s homemade cake. The competition will be held opposite last years site at the top of Blackwater Hollow. Ample parking is available and admission is free. For more information or to support the event through sponsorship please contact Tony Ridd, 740067 or email tony@landscapetherapy. co.uk. 39