We are very lucky to have two semi mature horse chestnut trees in the Genus garden. They shelter our three large leafmould enclosures and provide us with a degree of protection from north winds that can cut viciously across the surrounding farmland. Like most of the UK’s horse chestnuts, ours suffer from infestations of the moth Cameraria ohridella, a leaf miner that disfigures the leaves with brown blotches, making the tree ‘brown off’ earlier than it would do otherwise. (The leaf mines can be clearly seen in the photo).
Horse chestnuts also suffer from an often-fatal disease called bleeding canker. These problems and others sadly mean the tree has now been put on the list of trees heading towards extinction. So bad is the problem that in our neighbouring town of Cirencester the iconic 200-year-old Broad Avenue in Cirencester Park, originally planted to commemorate victory at the Battle of Waterloo, is being felled to make way for more suitable trees: small leaved limes (Tilia cordata).
Nearly a mile long and planted with 290 horse chestnuts by the then 3rd Earl Bathurst, the number has now dwindled to 92 ageing and diseased specimens. It’s a shock to see these trees - a favourite of many school children over the centuries - removed, but in this instance the owners have had to look to the future and imagine the pleasure that the new incumbents will give for future generations of visitors to this Grade 1 listed parkland.
In the meantime, Genus has the pleasure of enjoying our less-ancient specimens for several more decades to come