Managing ash dieback at Upton House and Gardens

Ash trees displaying signs of ash dieback

Conserving the wider habitat in the gardens at Upton House includes monitoring the spread and effects of ash dieback. Close maintenance allows the team to ensure damage can be kept to a minimum, and the gardens can continue to be explored safely by visitors.

Ash dieback

Ash dieback is a fungal disease called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus that is having a devastating effect on the common ash, a UK native tree. They are part of the natural woodland planting throughout the property at Upton House and Gardens. There is evidence that most semi mature trees less than 100 years old will die of the fungal disease, which is spore spread and windblown, so protection of the species is very limited.

Do ash trees recover?

As this is a relatively new disease it could take well over 50 years to monitor and record the disease to establish if any of the trees are recovering. There are new trial plantations of ash trees being monitored for the disease to try and grow resistant ash trees for the future. 

How many trees are affected at Upton House and Gardens?

Throughout the National Trust we have a duty of care to both our staff and visitors and we are closely monitoring all ash trees at our properties.  We are monitoring firstly for the decline in the crown along with fungal leaf drop, and bleeding black wounds on the bark.  There will be about 100 trees felled over the next few years. 

Managing ash dieback in the garden at Upton House
a tree surgeon felling branches off ash trees to control ash dieback
Managing ash dieback in the garden at Upton House

What are you doing to manage the disease and its effects?

Due to it being a fungal spore disease aided by the wind, we are unable to protect any of the already established ash trees.  As these trees start to show signs of decline, we are felling them to reduce the risk to staff and visitors whilst visiting our properties.  Any young trees which have grown from windblown seeds are left to grow on naturally and are monitored for any fungal signs. 

Why did the tree have to come down by the Pavilion Café?

The trees around the property and at all National Trust properties are surveyed on a regular basis and are placed in zoned areas of very high, medium and low risk depending on the circumstances of the visitor route and other factors.

The tree was growing in a very high-risk area and had an overall declining crown growth.  As part of our diligence of responsibility for the safety of all our visitors we are following a National Trust programme of works to ensure that ash trees in high risk zones with declining canopies are felled as they are potentially at risk of collapse. 

Branches being felled from ash trees at Upton
Felling of ash dieback tree branches
Branches being felled from ash trees at Upton

Visitors to woods, forests, parks and public gardens can help to minimise the spread of ash dieback and other plant diseases by brushing soil, mud, twigs, leaves and other plant debris off their footwear and wheels before and after visiting other areas. The wheels of cars, bicycles, mountain bikes, baby buggies and wheelchairs can also harbour spores; so, it will help to wash these items at home before visiting other similar sites.

Find out more about how the National Trust is tackling ash dieback here