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Necessary Tree Management

A Message from our Head Gardener, Lucy Hart

As part of our Phase 3 restoration project, we’re improving our views around the grounds, opening up areas for replanting and building new permanent paths.  In order to achieve these improvements we need to remove some trees.  These are mainly self-sown sycamores that have grown up on the perimeter of the site.  The removal of trees is a not a decision that Fulham Palace Trust has taken lightly and we have taken on board the views of the public and stakeholders.

Reasons

The main reasons for the project within the gardens are to:

  • Open up views between Fulham Palace,  Bishop’s Park and the Thames, establishing a greater sense of interconnectivity and discovery. This should also reduce anti-social behaviour.
  • Allow space for a small number of new tree and shrub plantings, which will also act to increase biodiversity and encourage more wildlife.
  • Re-introduce historic plants that were first grown in the UK here at Fulham Palace, by Bishop Compton (1675 to 1713).
  • Increase the range of planting outside the Walled Garden, contributing to the long-term improvements to the whole garden.
  • Enhance the path network, at the main entrance and south of the walled garden.
  • Regain control of invasive species such as sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) that have been allowed to self-seed themselves. Most of the trees being removed are sycamores which are invasive and of no historic relevance to Fulham Palace. Their current existence is crowding out and deforming other trees.

Background and Consultation on tree removals

Tree density in the Fulham Palace gardens has increased from the late 19th century and dramatically from the 1970s.  The site has over 646 trees over a 75mm girth diameter within its 13 acres.  This includes 94 sycamores in 13 acres of land (compared with 7 sycamores in 250 acres of land at Kew Gardens).  This is too many trees in too small area, given that other large sections of the Palace, e.g. the main lawn, have no trees. The quality of many of the trees planned for removal has been compromised by long term lack of arboriculture management leading in many cases to poor canopy development.

Other studies have also shown that better air flow protected trees from diseases such as ‘Sudden Oak Death’ or phytopthora.  Thinning of excess vegetation and improvements in air flow is now an important strategy in many historic gardens in the UK.

Following consultation feedback with local groups and stakeholders, we have reduced the number of trees for removal to 63 trees.  In the most part these are spontaneously arising self- seeded sycamores which reflect reduced levels of care and horticultural management during the 20th Century and in particular, over the past 40 years.  We will be keeping the largest trees on site including the largest sycamores, unless our 2016 tree survey recommends to fell the trees for health and safety reasons.

Ongoing Restoration

The restoration project will reinstate the south path that goes around the outside of the walled garden up to the church yard gate.  Along this route there are quite a few trees and by removing these will allow the path to be re-laid and provide all year round access for our visitors.

We will open up the view to the River Thames, which historically provided transport to other episcopal and royal palaces.  Through removing some trees to create this view, we will also help create a greater sense of space and interconnectivity between the Palace, Bishop’s Park and the River Thames.

Historical Significance and New Trees

The tree removals will provide space to plant new trees and shrubs which reflect the historic importance of the site as a botanical garden.   We will create historic plant beds with emphasis placed on the collections amassed by Bishop Compton during his tenure at the palace from 1675 to 1713.  Bishop Compton was passionate about plant collecting and introduced the first Magnolia to Europe, growing it here in Fulham Palace for the first time.  We have a long term strategy to replace sycamores with historically appropriate tree and shrub species.

In the short term we will be planting around 15 trees and many more shrubs and plants. In addition, we have planted 47 apples trees in the walled garden in 2016 and will be planting another 68 in 2018.

Biodiversity

The existing habitat with dense sycamore and matted ivy has left us with a rather sterile environment.  By taking some trees out and reducing the ivy this will allow better growth from other existing trees, space to plant more species, creating a more diverse habitat and encouraging birds and other wildlife to inhabit the Palace grounds.  Our recent bat survey confirms we have no roosting bats however we will be installing bat boxes in the trees as well as bird boxes to enhance populations.

Fulham Palace has an ongoing commitment to restore and maintain the Palace and gardens for future generations.

Necessary Tree Management
Necessary Tree Management
Necessary Tree Management
Necessary Tree Management
Necessary Tree Management
Necessary Tree Management

8 comments

  • Dear L Sanders

    Thank you for your comment. The path you mention will be open to the public to use by the autumn. The botanical Bishop Compton plants will also be planted this winter (as this is the best time to plant field grown trees and shrubs). Much research has gone into working out which species were grown here at Fulham Palace back in the late 17th century and then there has been the challenge to source actual plants themselves, but all is on track.

    Since the path works, we have been concentrating on the soft landscaping, shaping the beds, weeding and clearing scrub and pernicious weeds. Now the intense heatwave and drought have passed either side of the path are being sown to create grass verges. The path is still very new but it is the same material, (breedon gravel) as the rest of our paths in the garden and so will weather down over time.

    We hope this helps and best wishes.
    Lucy Hart
    Head Gardener

    Posted by admin on Wednesday 5 September 2018

  • Can you please advise when the works to the area outside the walled garden will be finished? The area was a wonderful, secret woodland with bluebells in spring and bark paths. New paths are bright and stark – 63 (?) trees felled and many felled trees still in situ. Any new planting promised is not yet evident and all still closed to the public. All waork seems to have stalled.

    Posted by L Saunders on Saturday 1 September 2018

  • Dear Rosamund.

    Thanks you for your comment. Sycamore indeed supports less species than some other trees like an oak for example. We hope to see wildlife return to the Palace by removing some the sycamore which have created a rather sterile environment. This along with the management of the intense mats of ivy to make space for new plantings will increasing biodiversity.
    We will also be installing bird and bat boxes.

    Best wishes
    Lucy Hart
    Head Gardener

    Posted by admin on Friday 1 December 2017

  • Dear S Rogner

    Thank you for your comments. Fulham Palace is a historic house and botanic garden and the tree removals are part of the Phase 3 restoration and have been carefully selected to improve this very special historic site. Fulham Palace has become crowded out by self-sown sycamores that have been allowed to grow up over the past century or so, probably starting from when the moat was filled in during the 1920s.

    With almost 1 sixth of our trees being sycamore, we have surprisingly low wildlife diversity, particularly birds and by taking some trees out and replanting with a new range of species, we will increase biodiversity. Over the last 3 years, we have planted 47 apple trees in the walled garden and will plant another 68 this winter. The spaces we have now created in the area close to Bishop’s Park will allow views in and out of the Palace, air flow to dispel diseases and to allow for replantings of botanical historic species.

    Some trees that are too close to other existing botanical species have been felled. This has now provided the space other trees to thrive and grow into grand specimens such as the much loved white Mulberry on the front paddock and the Tetradium daniellii on the south side.

    You refer to the removal of the tree in front of the marquee. That was a sycamore. It was a poor specimen with a great deal of ‘included bark’ – which is when the tree’s main trunks have a very weak union.

    We hope this helps and best wishes.
    Lucy Hart
    Head Gardener

    Posted by admin on Friday 1 December 2017

  • As a resident walking through Bishops Park every day just horrified by this massive deforestation. Getting fewer trees every day and seems as majority of huge trees had to go. Looking at the remaining stumps some trees must have been +50 years and healthy. Will you leave some trees? Where will wild life find a home without trees? What are the views achieved now? I do see this awfull white plastic building for party guests next to the palace. Honestly ? Shouldn’t a city like London with massive pollution try to preserve every tree they have ?

    Posted by S Rogner on Thursday 30 November 2017

  • Thank you for explaining the tree management so well. I used to belong to the BTCV in my younger years and one of our tasks was the removal of Sycamores in Highgate Cemetery. They had proliferated over the years and were causing subsidence of tombs and graveside ornaments. We were informed that they did not as a species support much insect life as some other trees do, due to the smoothness of their bark. The preferred cemetery plants were given more space Eg Yew trees and other shrubs. It is always sad to see trees felled as they have such a grand sense of presence in the overall landscape. I always do admire the gardens at Bishops Palace which gives a sense of a natural woodland in many areas. Providing views of the river will allow light to enter. I did see a Dormouse once and hope that he is still able to find his quiet hidden spot despite the changes!

    Posted by Rosamund A Woodroffe on Thursday 16 November 2017

  • This post had really helped me understand better the reasons behind the wonderful project: thank you, Lucy Hart.

    Posted by Jane Bowden-Dan on Wednesday 8 November 2017

  • What a wonderful and exciting project. Bishop Compton would be thrilled !

    Posted by Jamie Atwell on Sunday 5 November 2017

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