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Rose Lane

Written by John James, posted on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Vintage postcard showing Rose Lane and Merton CollegeChrist Church Meadow has been maintained as a public park since the 16th century and is one of the oldest continuously managed parks in the country. Christ Church welcomes over a million visitors to the Meadow every year.

The college takes its responsibility for preserving and improving the Meadow seriously and has commissioned a management strategy for the trees in the Meadow.

Rose Lane was originally planted as a lime avenue in the mid 1800’s with the trees being maintained as high stemmed specimens to allow views through beneath their canopies.

The trees were pollarded after World War II and were maintained as such until the 1990’s, at which point they were felled and replaced with the current hornbeam trees.

Unfortunately the hornbeams have not been a great success, they are very broad crowned trees and were not planted at even or close enough spacing, and never received adequate initial pruning to give them a good form. Rose Lane has become the only feasible access to Christ Church for large delivery vehicles and these are now conflicting with the low branched hornbeams resulting in damage to both trees and vehicles.

As part of our long term management strategy and after consultation with historic landscape and arboricultural consultants, Historic England, Oxford City Council, the Forestry Commission, Oxford Botanic Garden, Oxfordshire Gardens Trust, and the Oxford Preservation Society, Christ Church has been granted a licence to fell the hornbeams and a small number of adjacent trees and replace them with common lime, Tilia x europaea ‘Pallida’, which is a long lived, historically appropriate choice which will enhance the landscape for several centuries.

The new trees will be English grown, around 16 years old and come in as heavy standard specimens around five metres high to make an instant impact. The trees will be pruned from an early stage to restore the high stemmed effect seen before World War II. Common lime is a semi-native species that will have a positive impact on the local ecosystem.

Removal of the existing trees will be carried out by the Christ Church Gardens and Meadow team. The branches will be chipped and used elsewhere on site as mulch for new planting. The bigger timber will be stacked in the Meadow to form habitat piles.

John James is Head Gardener, and manages the Christ Church Gardens and Meadows team.