Historic trees under threat at RHS Garden Wisley

Proposals to widen the A3 for M25 junction 10 improvements could threaten the future of RHS Garden Wisley. Of two options being considered by Highways England, one would see over 500 trees and their wildlife’s habitat destroyed at the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) flagship garden.

RHS Garden Wisley is one of the most loved and horticulturally important gardens in the UK and the RHS say that plans to widen the A3 could prove the ultimate land grab.

Wisley is a Grade II* listed garden and the RHS estimate that some 500 trees could be threatened. One of the options being considered would see over 10,000sq metres of woodland taken and over 500 trees destroyed, including one planted by The Queen to mark her Silver Jubilee.

There are two options open to Highways England to widen the A3: one on the east side of the A3 and one on the west. The RHS preference is that the A3 is widened on the east side, so that the trees would not be destroyed.

Alan Titchmarsh, RHS Ambassador points out that the potential destruction of the woodland would be another unacceptable example of the government’s poor perception of horticulture and a lack of appreciation of the vital role that plants play in the environment, for the nation’s health and well-being and for the UK economy: “Wisley is the UK’s centre of excellence for horticulture and horticultural science and helps millions of people to garden and grow plants.  I’m calling on the UK’s army of 27 million gardeners to make it known that a disregard for these important trees and lack of appreciation of the national importance of this garden would not be acceptable if the short sighted and environmentally damaging option was chosen.  We must stand together and protect our gardens,” says Alan.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, says:  “It would be criminal for this irreplaceable woodland to be lost when another viable plan would avoid cutting down these century old trees and still meet the important need to widen the A3.

We’re currently investing over £70 million into RHS Garden Wisley in horticulture, new laboratories, learning buildings and visitor facilities, making the garden an even more important centre for science, and a better place to visit.  

The role that these trees play in mitigating pollution, giving a home to wildlife and providing a visual and noise barrier to preserve the peace and productivity of the garden cannot, and must not, be underestimated.”

RHS Curator, Matthew Pottage talks about the trees at risk in the video above.

Losing the natural barrier of trees on Wisley’s boundary would be visually devastating and also dramatically increase noise pollution. Apart from the loss of The Queen’s Tree, five trees, identified as threatened and endangered in cultivation by Plant Heritage’s Threatened Plants Project will also be lost.

Of the two options (9 and 14) being put forward by HE to improve junction 10, both options would involve widening the A3. While the RHS don’t object to either option 9 or 14, their main concern is the consequential widening of the A3 and the potential impact that this could have on the garden.

Alan Titchmarsh calls for the UK’s 27 million army of gardeners to stand together to protect Wisley. If, like Alan, you believe RHS Wisley’s 500 trees and other areas shouldn’t be destroyed please sign their petition here.

 

Photo credit: Banner, RHS Wisley ©Reckless Gardener: Video ©RHS

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