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.

Share this story


#ARBatwork #ArbMatters #PledgeLessPlastic #WomenInArb #WomenInTrees & 12 Faces of Arb 1987 storm 2 Rope 2018 30 Under 30 3ATC 3ATC UK Open 50th annual AA AA award AA Awards Aboricultural Association Accident accreditation Addiction advice AFAG AFL aftercare AGM Agrilus Biguttatus aid air quality Alert Alex Kirkley All Party Parliamentary Group on Horticulture amenity Amenity Conference Anatomy Ancient Tree Forum Annual Awards Anthropology APF APF 2020 APF 2022 app APPGHG application Appointment apprentice apprenticeship Apprenticeships Approved Approved Contractor Approved Contractors ARB ARB Approved Contractor ARB Approved Contractors ARB at work ARB Magazine ARB Show arb training ArbAC ARBatwork ArbCamp Arbor Day Arboricultural Association Arboricultural Student Arboriculture arborists Arbsafe Ash Ash Archive ash dieback Asian Hornet Assessments Assessors atf ATO Australia Autumn Review award Awards Barcham Trees Bark Beetle Bartlett Bartlett Tree Experts bats Bats & Trees beetle beyond ism Bill Matthews biochar biodiversity biomechanical biosecurity Book Prize Book Shop Books Bookshop boundaries branch Branches brand Brexit bs5837 Budgeting Tool bursary business Call for Abrstacts Call for papers Campout Canker stain of plane carbon career careers Cavanagh CCS Cellular Confinement Cellular Confinement Systems CEnv CEO Ceratocystis Ceratocystis platani chainsaw chalara charity Charles charter Charter for Trees Chartered Environmentalist chelsea Chelsea Flower Show Claus Mattheck climate climate change climber climbing Cofor Colleges committees competition competiton conference Confor conifers conservation Consultant consultation Continuous Professional Development Contractor Contractors Cornwall Cornwall Branch Coronavirus Coroner Council Countryside Countryside Code Countryside Stewardship Course for beginners COVID-19 CPD cross industry news Crown & Canopy Cryphonectria parasitica Cumbria DART Date for your diary deadwood death debate Debt defra Design Devon Director disease diversity document donate dothistroma downloads draft Dutch elm EAC East Anglia ecology Economic Report economy Ecotricity education EFUF Election elections Electricity Elm yellows Emerald Ash Borer England England Tree Action Plan England Tree Strategy English Elm environment environmental EPF equipment Europe European Arboricultural Council European Forum on Urban Forestry European Wood Pastures Event exeter Exhibitors Fall from Height Fatal Fatality felling Fellow Fellow Members Fera Field Trip Finance Fine firewood First Aid FISA flood flooding for Forest Research forestry Forestry Commission forests freelancers FSC Fund4Trees funding fundraiser fungal fungi Future Flora Futurebuild gardening GDPR Geocells Gold Medal Gov.uk government grant grants Grapple Saws Green Brexit Green Infrastructure Green Infratructure Green Recovery Green Up Guarantee guidance Guidance Note Guidance Note 2 guide guides Hazard Tree Health heart-rot Hedgerow hedges Helliwell Help Henry Girling Henry Kuppen History HMRC HOMED Homeworking Honey Brothers honours Horse Chestnut HortAid horticulture horticulturists HortWeek housing HRH HRH Prince Charles HS2 HSE HTA ICF ICoP identification Immigration import industry Industry Code of Practice industry skills Infographic InfraGreen Initiatives Inspiration Insurance Intermediate Tree Inspection International Urban Forestry Congress International Women’s Day International Year of Plant Health invertebrates Investigating Tree Archaeology Conference IPAF Ips typographus Irma irrigation ISA iso i-Tree IUFC IWD21 Job job opportunity jobs judgement JustGiving Karabiner Kew Kit land-based Landsaping Landscape Institute Landscape Recovery Scheme Landscape Show landscaping Lantra law Leaf Minor Lectures legal legislation Letters Liability licence Local Authority Treescapes Fund London longevity LTOA Lynne Boddy Magazine Managegement Plan manifesto maple Mayor of London MBE Melbourne Member Benefit Member Survey Membership Mental Health mentor MEWPs Midlands moth' motion Myerscough NASA National Geographic National Hedgerow Week National Tree Safety Group National Tree Week NATO Natural England NatureScot Netherlands New Year’s Honours News NHS nominations Northern Northumberland Notice notification NTIS NTOA NTOC NTSG Nurseries oak 'oak Oak Processionary Moth Oak-boring Beetle obituary Observatree occupation OHRG online opm Padua Papua parks parliament Perennial Pests & Diseases Pests and Diseases Petersfield petition Petzl photo Phytophthora Phytophthora pluvialis Pine Processionary Moth plan planning Planning Law Plant Health Plant Healthy planting Plantsman Pledge Plumpton College policy poll Poster Power PPE Preston Twins Prince Charles Prince of Wales processionary Product Recall Professional Members prosecution Protect and Survive protected tree protection Qualifications Queen’s 70th Jubilee Questionnaire Quotatis ramorum RC Recruitment Red Diesel reference Reg Harris Registered Registered Consultant Registered Consultants Rehab Rememberance Day renewal REnvP Report Rescue research Research grant Resilience response results Retirement retrenchment review RFS rhs RHS Chelsea Flower Show Ride for Research Ride4Research rigging Rodney Helliwell rogue tree surgeons Royal Forestry Society RSFS Safe Working Practice Safety Safety Bulletin Safety Bulletins Safety Guides Safety Notice Saftey Sale school Scotland Scotland Branch Scottish Branch SDG Accord security Seed Gathering Season Seminar seminars Share Sheffield Show Sierra Leone Site Guidance skills skills survey SocEnv Social Benefits of Trees soil soils South East South East Branch South West Speaker spotlight SRT SRWP staff Standards statement Stationary Rope Stationary Rope Technique statutory STIHL Stonehouse Storm strategy student Student Book Prize Student Conference Study Trip Sub-contractors Supporter survey Sustainable Soils Alliance Sweet Chestnut sweet chestnut blight symposium T Level T Levels Tatarian maple TDAG technical guide Technical Guides Technical Officers Technical Team Technician Members Technology Ted Green Telecommunications tender TG3 Thames & Chiltern The Arboricultural Association The Plantsman’s Choice The Queen’s Green Canopy The Woodland Trust Thinking Arbs Thinking Arbs Day Timbersports Tony Kirkham Tools top-handled chainsaws,Elcoat, TPBE4 TPO Trading Standards trailblazer training transport Tree Tree Care Tree Champion Tree Council Tree Fayre Tree Health Tree Health Week Tree Inspection tree loss tree management Tree of the year Tree Officer Tree officers tree pathogen tree planning Tree Planting Tree Production Innovation Fund Tree Protection tree register Tree Risk Tree Shears tree species Tree Supply Tree Surgeon Tree Surgeons Tree Week Tree Work at Height Tree Workers Zone TreeAlert Treeconomics tree-felling TreeRadar trees trees' Trees & Society Trees & Sociey Trees and Society Trees for Cities Trees, People and the Built Environment trust' trustee Trustees TrustMark Two Rope two-rope UAG Uitlity UK favourite ukas UKWAS urban urban forest Urban Forestry Urban Tree Challenge Urban Tree Challenge Fund Urban Tree Cover Urban Tree Diversity Urban Tree World Cup urban trees UTD4 Utility Arboriculture Group UTWC vacancy VETcert veteran trees video Videos Virtual ARB Show volunteer voting VTA WAC Wales Wales Branch Warning Watering watering solutions Webinar webinars website Wellbeing Western Westonbirt Wharton White Paper WIA Witley Women Women in Arb women in arboriculture woodland Woodland Carbon Code Woodland Carbon Guarantee woodland trust woods Work at Height Workshops World Environment Day World Fungi Day Xylella young Young Arboricultural Professional young arborists Young People’s Breakfast Event Young Tree Aftercare zoo

Sue Adams – 1949–2021

Author:  Geoff March
Last Updated:  30/05/2022

Sue Adams


Sue (sixth from right) with fellow tree gazers under the mighty Liriodendron at Stourhead, 2011.

Sue (sixth from right) with fellow tree gazers under the mighty Liriodendron at Stourhead, 2011.

A personal appreciation by Geoff March

Sue Adams was an arboricultural officer then private consultant in the west of England and a familiar friendly face at Association conferences and seminars. Born in 1949, she died in 2021 at the end of June, having battled cancer over the previous year.

I first got to know Sue perhaps 20 years ago at informal meetings of what was loosely known as the Tree Gazers. These little get-togethers were – and in fact still are, Covid permitting – aimed at fellow tree enthusiasts in the west of England and South Wales, with most being professionals, either arborists, local authority tree officers or consultants.

If this sounds rather sophisticated, in reality it usually consisted of maybe half a dozen motley folk, occasionally many more but sometimes even fewer, meeting up every few months to trudge round an arboretum or other suitable place, rain or shine. We’d start off with a spring in our step but progress more and more slowly as we stopped to argue the finer points of every less common tree on our route. We would also pause for a sociable lunch if there happened to be a nearby café or pub.

On these walks, and given that we would usually be in the presence of some pretty rare stuff, particularly hard to identify were the more obscure types of evergreen mostly known as taxads which – understandably – are rare due to being not very large, not very distinguishable, not at all colourful, and frankly a little boring. NOT to Sue though! Perhaps reflecting her early MSc in evolution, variation and taxonomy, she had a real enthusiasm for these and would happily enlighten us as to the exact species, be it Podocarpus or Cephalotaxus, Taiwania or Torreya.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to her large collection of orchids at her Gloucestershire home in North Nibley was a very unspectacular collection of these odd little trees, most of which were scruffy little bushes in fact, growing at the front of her house. This included an unwanted one of my own that I had managed to unload on her. Planted just a few feet from her front window, it rapidly grew into a surprisingly large and hideous specimen. By this time Sue was contemplating her move to Upton St Leonards, and realising she was probably blighting her old house for any rational purchaser, she reluctantly and apologetically removed it at last.

By this time Sue had jumped from being a well-established local authority tree officer at South Gloucestershire to a career as an independent arboricultural consultant (Treescope), on the lookout for private work. A high point of her previous job had been effectively securing the future of the superb collection of trees at Tortworth Court, not far from Wotton under Edge, that was under severe threat. Sue organised the surveying and proper identification of these, many of which were – and still are – very rare and notable, and had them protected for the future by a Tree Preservation Order. Reflecting this achievement, we are planning to plant a Torreya californica in her memory at Tortworth this year.

Sue was a very talented and knowledgeable professional. She was a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters and held the RFS Professional Diploma in Arboriculture. A Fellow of the Arboricultural Association, she was an examiner for the Technician’s Certificate, vice chair of the Education & Training Committee, a member of AA Western Branch Committee and also assisted with editing copy for the ARB Mag.

When, in 2007, I found myself looking for extra consultancy help, Sue seemed the obvious person to ask and luckily she agreed right away. As an associate to Tree Maintenance Ltd, she rapidly adapted to our own way of doing things and I soon realised that she was much better than me where a particular involvement with planning issues was required. In fact, she was soon indispensible, and I knew that if Sue was given a job, it would be returned on time, with the minimum of fuss and impeccably presented.

I think the only time she dropped a real clanger was when she emailed me about a particularly irritating, but quite important, client who had proved a thorn in our side on previous occasions. Sue offloaded to me in quite ripe language in this email and then hit the ‘reply all’ button by mistake, thereby sending it straight back … to the client. Talking my way out of that one was fun.

After Sue retired from her arboricultural work a few years back we were all quite shocked when she announced that this was to be total, to the extent that she rapidly sold off her collection of specialist books and equipment. We soon learnt that, instead, she was launching headlong into her new passion in the world of archaeology, and she was soon travelling the UK working as a volunteer on digs. Luckily for us, I’m pleased to say that she continued to come to our little meetings whenever she could, right up until her illness made it impossible. So I think Sue was possibly unique in swapping a life of peering up in the air at trees to peering down into the ground, trowel in hand.

Sue, your cheerfulness, reliability, good sense and knowledge were an inspiration to us all and it was a privilege to be counted as your friend. From ALL of your tree friends – a big THANK YOU!

This article was taken from Issue 197 Summer 2022 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.