Branches saved for furniture

01:08, Mar 18 2010
Branches saved for furniture as it's felled for safety reasons
FINAL HOURS: A mulching machine shreds rotten branches as they are cut off the Church of the Nativity elm tree, a notable tree that had become a public safety risk.

Blenheim has lost another of its notable trees with the felling of an old, ailing elm outside the Church of the Nativity.

Yesterday, arborists from David James Trees Services were on site. Aided by a tall crane, support ropes and a chainsaw, they sheared off the tree's branches before tackling its trunk.

Watching them work, assistant priest Derek Harding said it was always sad when a notable tree had to be cut down, but the elm was dying and had become a safety risk.

The tree had been showing signs of ill health when he first came to Blenheim three years ago, Mr Harding said. More recently, church leaders were looking at closing off the church car park's eastern end, next to the tree.

"Parts of it were dying off and the next corollary was that branches would fall," Mr Harding said.

Asked if there had been a little ceremony to farewell the tree, thought to have been planted about 1861 when Blenheim's first Anglican church was built on the site, he said there hadn't been.

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"I think we will have one if we plant a new one."

Arborist David James said there were definite plans for a replacement. "We're looking to replace it with [another] big tree."

He agreed the old elm was "sick" and blamed a damaged root system, probably caused when tarseal was laid for the car park, replacing a lawn tennis court.

Then the parish's administrative block was built on the other side of the tree, further restricting its root systems.

Its life has not totally ended, however. While the arborists were feeding its rotting branches into a mulching machine yesterday, healthy branches were cut at good lengths and put aside.

"The tree has been sold for furniture," Mr James said.

The Marlborough Express