On the hunt to capture England’s last remaining mature elm trees

The authors recently travelled to East Sussex on the hunt to find some of England’s last remaining mature elm trees.

East Sussex is one of the last strongholds for the elm, where it is assisted in its battle to survive the continuing onslaught of Dutch Elm Disease by a special project run by East Sussex County Council; who employ a dedicated Dutch Elm Disease Officer. Guided by their officer Anthony Becvar, the authors saw several large English elm trees although sadly many showed signs of the disease or had been pruned by tree surgeons in an attempt to halt decline. Numerous other examples of elms including Huntingdon (a hybrid between small-leaved elm U. minor and wych elm U. glabra) and Wheatley (Ulmus minor subsp. sarniensis ) were also seen.

The tree subject chosen to be featured in a drawing by Sarah Simblet for The New Sylva were two Cornish Elms ((Ulmus minor subsp. angustifolia) that were off the beaten path. The two trees were both leaning, having had their roots disturbed, but were otherwise in very good health.

Cornish Elms and drawing in progress by Sarah Simblet

Cornish Elms and drawing in progress by Sarah Simblet for The New Sylva