Posted: 06.10.19 at 16:36 by The Editor
A programme of restoration work has started on Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue - an iconic topiary avenue of more than 140 trees planted 200 years ago.
It has been more than five years since the famous trees, which were once clipped into all manner of unusual shapes, were last trimmed.
But now Clipsham Yew Tree Avenue Trust (CYTAT), set up in 2018 to to organise and fund work on improving the health of the trees and reinstate their patterns before they are lost forever, has started work on the first phase of the restoration project.
Trustee Sue Thomas said: "The cutting of the trees is a job needing professional expertise and we have commissioned Euan Mclaren Tree Services to carry out this important task.
"They started their work on 1 October and it will take approximately six weeks to complete the re-creation of the original shapes of the trees."
Funding to restore the trees has been raised by the trust from individual supporters and sponsorship.
The cost - more than £10,000 - will need to be raised each year to keep the trees trimmed and in good shape.
In the longer term, CYTAT plans to restore the topiary designs on the side of the trees in the avenue, which was once the carriage driveway to Clipsham Hall.
In addition to the restoration works on the Yew Trees, CYTAT has obtained grants from LEADER and Rutland Healthy Living to resurface the car park, create new signs and interpretation boards as well as install a wheelchair-friendly path from the car park to the main avenue.
CYTAT has also been able to refurbish the Grade II listed gates and cut the grass rides on a regular basis, while allowing the biodiversity of this species-rich grassland to be maintained.
CYTAT has generated a great deal of community support and now has over 30 ‘friends’ who offer their services in a variety of ways including litter picking and general site management.
"Since we took on the management of the avenue we have had an incredibly busy year getting things sorted.
"Once we have got the trees trimmed back to a firm base, we plan to start working on the unique topiary designs in 2020.
"We very much want to thank all those who have given and continue to give their support in whatever way they can," added Sue.
Forestry England, which holds a 999 year lease for the avenue, stopped funding the upkeep of the tree avenue in 2014.
In 2018, following several years of negotiations, CYTAT was formed as a new charity and granted a 20-year management licence to restore and maintain the avenue.