02 February 2024
Assynt Elm Project

mandy and max coleman planting the special elm seedlingThe best thing about this winter is the Assynt Elm Project. I couldn't write a book about elms and stand by doing nothing while Dutch elm disease arrives here, as it almost certainly has, and if not, certainly soon will. So I decided to do a pilgrimage around Assynt's magnificent elms and talk to everyone I could locally about what they thought we might do to protect them. One thing has led to another, a project was born, support has come in all shapes and sizes - money from Scottish Forestry and John Muir Trust, time and expertise from a huge range of people and organisations, both national and local - and it has snowballed into a really joyful and hopeful celebration of our lovely elms. It culminated last week in a tree planting ceremony at Little Assynt of 20 elm seedlings, 19 of which were grown from local seed, one of which is a specially propagated seedling from parent trees further south in Scotland that have survived the disease for decades.

Chris Puddephatt has been taking photos, which I cannot praise highly enough - see for yourself in his amazing online gallery here - one of which is the one shown here of the special seedling being cuddled by me and Max Coleman from the Royal Botanic Garden Scotland, which grew it.

So far our project has been covered in numerous blogs, the Scottish Herald, Country Life and the Northern Times and there are more reports to come. If you spot any mention of the project, please let me know! I'm glad to be able to continue writing my book, knowing that our corner of the world is doing all we can to ensure elms have a positive future here.

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