Give an Elm a Home: Unfortunately Morfeo elm trees are no longer available. This post is here as an archive.
Help us reinstate the British landscape as it was in Constable's day. From this week Ashridge Nurseries (which is launching a campaign to Give an Elm a Home) is selling the first elm tree available in the UK that is truly resistant to Dutch Elm disease.
Morfeo elm trees have been tested since 1994 and are available in the UK exclusively from us in extremely limited numbers this year. You can be one of the first 250 people to plant an elm that will help put the countryside back the way it was. Growing at about 1 metre a year, these trees will quickly make an impact. For those of us who remember the countryside before Dutch Elm disease struck, it will be a very welcome change.
Would John Constable's famous scenes have been so quintessentially British without the Elms he so beautifully portrayed at the beginning of the 19th century?
The Romantic artist John Constable was famous for his paintings of the British landscape. Many of his studies of the countryside would not have been the same were it not for the elms that he so enjoyed painting. Needless to say there are no elms near Salisbury Cathedral any more.
Dutch Elm disease completely destroyed his famous views, and many more which hadn't been depicted by him, from the start of the 20th century, reaching its peak in the 1970s when some 25 million trees were lost to the disease.
Since then, many tree breeders have been trying to cultivate a variety of elm that would be resistant to the disease, a fungus spread by the Elm Beetle. This has proved to be a challenge since varieties bred as being disease free in the USA proved to be susceptible in Europe.
The best known example of this was when HRH the Prince of Wales, a great patron of British rural life, planted an avenue of Princeton Elms from America in 2008 at his Gloucestershire home, Highgrove, only to find that a few years later the trees died. Immune to American Dutch Elm disease they had no defence against the european strain.
At Ashridge Nurseries, we are delighted to be able to offer on an exclusive basis the Morfeo Elm. Tested in Britain since 2000 Morfeo is the first elm to have been proven disease resistant in the UK.
Bred initially in Italy, the Morfeo elm has inspired us to launch our very own campaign to support the reinstatement of the elm to British pastoral life. Our ‘Give An Elm A Home’ project is something we are particularly proud of, and we would like to encourage all our customers and visitors to our site to join in on.
We are supplying schools and community centres with our Morfeo elms and setting up other schemes to support the plantings, which we will keep everyone up to date with, and would urge you to either plant an elm yourselves or simply spread the word and tell others about the scheme.
Interesting facts about the elm
- Elms were introduced by the Romans.
- They were one of the UK’s largest native trees.
- John Constable made several studies of Elm in his paintings.
- Elm is not a good wood for building purposes but it is a wonderfully pliant material making it particularly useful in the making of boats and cartwheels. It was also a popular choice to make coffins.
- The Conservation Foundation, linked to the Natural History Museum amongst other organisations, has been running a scheme to support the discovery of disease-free elm.
- The Butterfly Conservation charity is a particular supporter of the Morfeo Elm thanks to its robust growth and phenology. Particularly rare moths and butterflies are hosted by the tree.
- Many references to Elm are made in literature, poetry and mythology. Morfeo is named after Morpheus, the god of dreams who hung the dreams he made on the branches of an elm tree.
- Dutch Elm Disease was first identified in Holland in 1917, hence the name. All the scientists who discovered it were women.
Give an Elm a Home: Unfortunately Morfeo elm trees are no longer available