King Charles to plant first seedling from Sycamore Gap tree months after historic tree was felled in act of vandalism

28 May 2024, 00:22

King Charles to plant first seedling from Sycamore Gap tree months after historic tree was felled in act of vandalism
King Charles to plant first seedling from Sycamore Gap tree months after historic tree was felled in act of vandalism. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

The King has been presented with the first seedling grown from seeds collected from the Sycamore Gap tree to plant in Windsor Great Park, nearly eight months after the historic tree was felled in an act of vandalism.

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The much-photographed tree, which stood next to Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland for 200 years, was chopped down in September last year, causing a national outrage.

Once the seedling has matured into a sapling, Charles will have it planted in Windsor Great Park for visitors to enjoy as a symbol of the hope and beauty that can come from loss, the National Trust said on Monday.

In a social media post, Buckingham Palace said: "Part of the power of trees to move and console us lies in the continuity and hope they represent: the sense that, rooted in the past and flourishing in the present, their seeds will be carried into an as yet unimaginable future."

May 27 is Celebration Day, a national day dedicated to remembering and celebrating people who are no longer with us and have shaped us to be where we are today, the National Trust said.

Dame Judi Dench places a seedling from the Sycamore Gap tree in The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Dame Judi Dench places a seedling from the Sycamore Gap tree in The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Picture: Alamy

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Charles, a long-time environmentalist, is patron to the charity and was its president from 2003 until his ascension to the throne in 2022.

The conservation charity encouraged members of the public to donate and plant a tree in memory of a loved one or as a gift, creating new habitats for wildlife.

Earlier this month a district judge said the case of two men accused of felling the famous tree - damage valued at £622,191 - was so serious it must be dealt with at the crown court.

A collection of small seedlings and buds from the 50ft tree propagated at the conservation charity's plant conservation centre in Devon, which has so far bred more than 100 seedlings and more than 40 cuttings.

The seedling will continue to be cared for by expert horticulturists until it is ready for planting.

Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, before the tree was unlawfully felled
Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, before the tree was unlawfully felled. Picture: Alamy

Hilary McGrady, director general of the National Trust, said: "It is wonderful news that His Majesty will one day have the very first sapling grown from this iconic tree.

"The new tree will be seen by many thousands each year and will be the first of many Sycamore Gap saplings planted at different places, in Northumberland and beyond.

"The swell of emotion we saw after the sycamore was felled goes to show how personally connected we all are to our natural heritage.

"These new green shoots are keeping the story of the Sycamore Gap alive and are serving as a reminder of the simple and much-needed hope, joy and respite that nature can bring."

The public got its first glimpse of the seedling at the Chelsea Flower Show on May 20 when Dame Judi Dench placed it in the Octavia Hill garden - named after the charity's founder.

Andy Jasper, director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: "It was quite overwhelming and incredibly humbling to see the public's reaction to the very first seedling to successfully germinate and grow at our special plant conservation centre, on display at the Chelsea Flower Show last week.

"Personally, it gave me so much joy to tell its story to the thousands of visitors to the stand - and to witness and to feel the outpouring of emotions first-hand of what this tiny sapling means to so many across the country."

The Sycamore Gap tree was among the UK's most photographed trees and was made famous in a scene in Kevin Costner's 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

The National Trust said planting plans for the other surviving seedlings will be announced later this year, including in Northumberland.

It is hoped the trees these seedlings grow into, including the one received by Charles, will distribute their own seeds widely through the wind.

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