Blowing a hooligan

It turned out to be a bit breezy in london yesterday. A driver was killed by falling tree, Kew Gardens shut to the public over safety fears, and bicycle journeys were taking either half the time or five times as long, depending on which way you were travelling.

By coincidence I had been giving a talk about Kew the night before and had been asked if the effects of the great storm of 1987 were still being felt. The question reminded me of this page on Kew’s website which tells the remarkable story of how the storm led to a new discovery that has perhaps actually saved some trees since. In their own words:

“In the great hurricane, on 16 October 1987, the whole root plate of the Turner’s Oak, one of our oldest trees, lifted and settled back in the ground. This appeared to rejuvenate it, as it was showing signs of stress and decline due to compaction of the root plate from the many people who take shelter under the broad evergreen crown. This was one of the factors that initiated the present day proactive decompaction programme for mature trees in the arboretum, which began in 1998. This programme involves relieving compaction around the root crown, mulching over the turf and injecting a mixture of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria. Loosening of the soil and injection of the mycorrhizal fungi is being performed using a ‘Terravent’ Soil Decompactor.”

So there you go, if every cloud has a silver lining, then every storm must have a….. errr, not sure what idiom we could make up here.

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