Conker canker in Prospect Park; 17 trees for the chop

by | Feb 16, 2016 | Featured Slider, Latest, News

Seventeen mature chestnut trees in Prospect Park in Tilehurst will be felled next week because they are diseased and dying.

During December, the trees, which line the drive to the Mansion House in the park, shed a number of large limbs.

A full inspection of the trees by Reading Borough Council revealed they have canker, fungal brackets and other defects.

Since they line the drive next to a football pitch, they represent a danger to the public and the decision was made to remove the hazardous trees.

Detailed inspection by the council’s tree inspector has revealed the disease is widespread in the avenue.

There are eight trees, five mature and three young, on the south side of the driveway, that need to be felled.

The remaining eight mature trees also show signs of disease.

The trees on the north side, which receive more shelter, have fared better and only one needs to be felled.

The council plans to fell all trees on the south side and to plant a new line of replacements.

This will expose the trees on the north side to wind and weather and is likely to hasten their decline.

The council will continue to monitor trees on the north side with a view to felling and replacing them when the time is right.

Since horse chestnuts are particularly susceptible to diseases, including canker, chestnut blight and leaf miner, the diseased trees will be replaced with chestnut-leaved oaks, which are a fast-growing, disease-tolerant species with a mature height of more than 20m.

It is an unusual choice as the species is not widely planted in this country.

Cllr Paul Gittings, Reading’s lead member for culture, sport and consumer services, said: “The time has come to start replanting the old avenue at Prospect Park.

“We need to act now to remove these diseased trees so that they don’t go on to contaminate other healthy trees in the park.

“Unfortunately, horse chestnuts are subject to a range of diseases. “Since they are shedding limbs, they also represent a significant hazard to the public and the most sensible course of action is to remove and replace them with a hardier, disease resistant species.”

Prospect Park in Tilehurst is the borough’s largest park, Grade Two-listed in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and a landscape of national importance.