Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

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Slater in Cornwall

Author:  Alan Rowe
Last Updated:  27/08/2019

Cornwall Branch hosted Dr Duncan Slater on 19 July to hear about his latest research on tree anatomy and fork structures.

Forty people joined us at the Lanhydrock Hotel and Golf Club including contractors, consultants, tree officers and head gardeners. Some came from as far away as Salisbury to benefit from the latest elements of Duncan’s talk which were being delivered for the first time in the UK – once again Cornwall is at the forefront of getting the latest updates on an important new aspect of modern arboriculture.

To start the day Stewart Wardrop, the Association’s CEO, gave us a quick update on national AA issues and it is always good to hear how much the Head Office team is doing to promote our industry and get it the national and international recognition that it deserves.

Dr Duncan Slater at Cornwall Branch’s latest event.

Dr Duncan Slater at Cornwall Branch’s latest event.

A damp day in Lanhydrock Gardens.

A damp day in Lanhydrock Gardens.

Duncan then delivered his talk which included a mixture of slides showing X-ray and digital microscope images of the internal workings of branch junctions and physical examples of junctions which delegates got to break so they could then examine the internal structures. The evidence to support Duncan’s theories is compelling and certainly seems to correspond with what we as arboriculturists have been unwittingly observing during our working lives. For me, the talk is one of those moments where one says to oneself ‘Oh yeah, of course.’

The subsequent walk at Lanhydrock Gardens, by kind permission of the National Trust, was a little damp but seeing the trees and observing the relationship between natural bracing and tight forks was, for me, overwhelming. The body of evidence that Duncan has gathered is extensive and this work should change the way we approach tree works, especially when removing crossing/rubbing branches. Anyone involved in the industry should take note.

During the day Duncan surprised one of our delegates by making a presentation: David Hansford of Hi-Line was presented with a trophy recognising his outstanding work undertaken through Myerscough College… well done, David!

The day brought together a great mix of people, and the friendly and jovial feel of everyone present ensured that it was a success. The Cornwall Branch would like to thank Dr Duncan Slater for making the epic journey to visit us and for allowing us to be the first in the UK to hear the new material.

A good year in Cornwall

The Cornwall Branch has had a busy time over the last 12 months with some well-attended events including a Sorbus Demo at Trewithan Gardens, a walk and talk around the Eden Project, a visit to the Cornwall captive release Beaver Project and a day of talks headlined by Jeremy Barrell to which 75 people came along. Not bad for a region that only has 50 members. A part of our success is due to the fact that we reach out to other tree care professionals and we have attendees from a range of backgrounds including ecologists, landscapers, head gardeners and tree wardens – after all, these are our potential future members.

When asked the question ‘What does the AA do for you?’ we have a ready answer in Cornwall and we realise that any organisation is only as good as its membership: the more effort we put in as individuals the better it becomes for everyone.


This article was taken form Issue 186 Autumn 2019 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.