Home > about saint francis hospice > News > "Treemendous" specimens

"Treemendous" specimens

A Director of The Tree Register, a charity that catalogues notable and ancient trees across Britain and Ireland, has visited a local hospice to see if any of its trees qualify for the title of "champion trees".
Pic A Checking the cork oak and plane trees in the hospice garden resized (cropped)
Claire White, the Head Gardener at Saint Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower, was particularly keen to discover if an ancient cork oak tree, growing in a lawn outside the hospice's Inpatient Unit, was as old as some visitors suggested. The relatively rare tree with the Latin name of Quercus suber is propped up to support its huge weight and David Alderman from The Tree Register examined and measured the tree before concluding that it is possibly 200 years old. If the reorganisation of local government hadn't occurred back in 1963 the tree would be a champion Essex County specimen but as a tree in the London Borough of Havering it has to be content with being the sixth biggest in Greater London! David said;"It is still a very fine and interesting specimen which many visitors to the Hospice will not have come across."

An Oriental Plane tree (Plantanus orientalis) growing close to the cork oak tree was also of particular interest to David. The tree is around 25 metres tall and David believes it is the 5th tallest for its species in Greater London and dates from around 1880.   

Pic B David Alderman from the Tree Register measures the height of the plane trees resized
But the trees of greatest botanical interest that David (pictured) examined were two River Birches (Betula nigra) near a pond in the garden of the hospice. One of these is now officially the largest of this type of tree in Greater London with a girth of 1.41 metres and the other the joint tallest in the whole of London at 15 metres high. Both of the trees are within the top twenty tallest of their kind in Britain!

After joining David for an inspection and measurement of the trees Claire White said; "We knew that we had some very interesting trees in our beautiful gardens and although we can't claim that our cork oak tree is a champion tree we do have some really amazingly large and ancient trees to admire in the gardens around the hospice. We have recently been working with tree surgeons to remove some diseased and damaged trees and are undertaking work that will allow patients and visitors to the hospice to enjoy some spectacular views from the hospice gardens right across to the Dartford river crossing and North Kent."

Laura Hill, Trust and Grants Manager at the Saint Francis Hospice who joined Claire and Dave for the inspection said; "Thanks to the Tree Register we now have a better understanding of the important trees that can be viewed in our garden. With the generous help of various trusts we hope that we can help protect these trees for future generations and make our gardens more accessible to the general public."
Pic B David Alderman from the Tree Register measures the height of the plane trees resized
Claire White and David Alderman measure the girth of another Oriental Plane tree in the hospice grounds.
Archive