There has been a dramatic decline in the number of trees on the Common in recent years. All the trees are surveyed regularly by Council Arboricultural Officers. Pollarding and pruning is an ongoing activity. The pollarded tree on the left soon recovers its foliage on the right. Damaged or diseased trees are felled, especially if they are a potential danger. The Common lost 6 trees this way in 2008 and another 7 in 2009. The pictures below show one of these felled trees with the tree surgeon showing the diseased wood. FoMC collected £1,400 from its members and friends to have the first fellings quickly replaced by 3 Black Poplars, 2 Dutch Elms and 1 Horse Chestnut. The Council promised to replace the latest fellings and increase the overall stock.
Planning workshops were held, the public was consulted and Councillors examined the proposals. A final plan was agreed and 50 White Willows, Black Poplars, London Planes and Silver Limes were planted and other trees moved or pollarded. The following map shows what was done. An early lack of rain led to a Council watering programme helped by volunteers. The trees will take some time to grow tall but Midsummer Common should then look like its old self again.
Midsummer Common is bounded to the west by a fine avenue of horse chestnut trees which were planted in the last decade of the 19th century. Unfortunately, these trees are now suffering from two diseases. The first is the leaf miner moth, Cameraria ohridella, which arrived in the UK in 2002 from elsewhere in Europe. It attacks the leaves, causing extensive and unsightly blotching, and weakens the health of the tree. The second is bleeding canker which affects the trunk and branches of horse chestnut trees. This type of symptom was first reported in the 1970s, when the cause was found to be a fungal pathogen known as Phytophthora. Closer investigation of the bleeding cankers has revealed that Phytophthora is no longer the primary causal agent. Instead a completely different pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae pv aesculi, is responsible for the increase in these symptoms. The impact on the environment can be particularly profound when large, mature trees are infected and disfigured by the disease. If the disease is severe and the areas of bark which are killed are extensive, large trees can die. The combined effect of these two diseases could have a dramatic effect on this fine avenue of horse chestnut trees.