Gardeners are counting the cost of Storm Katie which ripped through the country in a devastating few hours during the Easter Bank Holiday, whipping up winds gusting 106mph which brought down trees and damaged buildings.
Among her victims was a champion tree at Nymans Garden at Handcross, West Sussex, one of about 30 champion trees in the garden. The Pyrus glabra – an Iranian variety of pear tree – was almost 100 years old, and had grown to be one of the tallest of its kind in the UK. Also blown down in the storms were a yellow-flowered Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’ and a Lawson’s cypress ‘Kilmacurragh’.
At Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent, the grand silver fir (Abies grandis) known as the ‘Old Man of Kent’ and the tallest tree in the county at 50m, lost one of its three top branches in the high winds. The damage revealed disease deep within the heart of the tree and it may now have to be felled completely.
Toppled trees blocked highways across the country while trampolines were blown into roads. Gardens including Chiswick House and Kew Gardens in west London were also forced to close as winds strengthened, on what would have been among the busiest weekends of the year.