Reed Arboretum May 2018

Photo: University of Exeter

One of the great things about working with trees – apart from being paid to look at these majestic organisms – is that there’s a lot we can still do while practising current social distancing requirements.

For example, our founder Jeremy Peirce - never one to fear treading a solitary path - is busy progressing JPA's new contract for a full arboricultural survey at the University of Exeter.

The University undertakes this audit every three years. While it is driven primarily by a Health & Safety requirement to ensure that its Green Flag Award®-winning estate is safe for people to walk around, it also provides an opportunity for the grounds team to update its records on the location and health of all its arboricultural assets.

Iain Park, the University’s Director of Grounds, said: ‘We take our duty of care towards the public and our botanical legacy equally seriously. By employing an extremely knowledgeable arboricultural consultancy such as JP Associates, we can use this one audit to achieve both aims, nip brewing issues in the bud and maintain our rightful status in the global botanical community.’

Jeremy has started the project with an audit of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants at Streatham Campus, which is a registered and internationally feted botanic garden.

Azara Reed Walled Garden May 2018 3

Dazzling Azara from the University's National Collection (photo: University of Exeter)

It comprises plantings dating back to the 1860s when the gardens of the newly-built Streatham Hall (now Reed Hall) were designed by Veitch Nursery, a prominent pioneer in global specimen collection and propagation. Consequently, the estate has some extremely rare species from around the world as well as many specimens of national and international import. For example, its Azara population has been granted Plant Heritage’s prestigious National Plant Collection status, its Birks Pinetum has fine examples of some threatened conifers, and Palms gifted to the University by The Jewish and Israeli Society in the 1960s are deemed to have exceptional diplomatic significance.

In Phase 2 later this year, Jeremy will survey Jubilee Wood in The Hoopern Valley. This delightful tapestry of native trees, such as Oak, Silver birch, Hazel, Cherry and Rowan, was recovered from an impoverished state in 2012 by the University and the Woodland Trust in a project to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

At the time, JPA helped develop a 25-year Woodland Management Plan to prioritise and schedule the numerous tasks required for the restoration of the valley’s ecosystem - from thinning the existing woodlands and clearing the water courses to re-introducing native species – so Jeremy is keen to return and see what progress has been made.

Recognising his good fortune, Jeremy commented: ‘I feel privileged to be able to continue work that involves legitimately and safely wandering through special and uplifting areas such as these.’