Can Bicton Park’s trees withstand the heat?

PUBLISHED: 15:55 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:55 17 July 2019

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens curator Neville Evans.

Bicton Park Botanical Gardens curator Neville Evans.


Guest columnist Neville Evans, Curator of Bicton Park Botanical Gardens, wonders about the impact of the dry, hot weather on their trees.

Summer is here. Hot sunny days, blue skies and flowers in the garden — wonderful!

It is fair to say that the gardens at Bicton are looking great at the moment.

The Italian and Mediterranean gardens are full of colour and interest, in particular.

Behind the scenes we are running flat out watering, mowing and weeding, battling nature to stay in control.

As children we learn that plants need sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to grow and thrive; now here comes my whiney gardener bit, but where is the rain?

I'm not asking for much and, of course, I would like it delivered overnight a couple of times a week, thank you.

It's not so much for me, it's for the plants.

While my red hair doesn't lend itself to these sunny days, I am happy to take one for Team Plant and slap on the sun cream, but a little rain wouldn't go a miss now and then.

After another fantastic summer of blazing heat last year, I worry about the long-term implications of stress, predominantly on the trees.

While I don't doubt these slow, long-lived giants have seen it all before, many are older now and stresses can lead to increased decline.

I think my main intrigue is in the mostly unseen fungal decay within trees, and autumn will be exciting to see if there is an increase in fruiting bodies above ground and within the trees.

The majority of fungi exist harmoniously in the soils around us.

Honey fungus is a natural component of beach woodlands around the country and it is only when a tree is weakened that it jumps into action.

With thousands of trees, watering all of them is unrealistic but we work hard to give them the best start and care throughout their lives.

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