Dutch elm disease, one of the most serious tree diseases in the world, swept through British woodlands in the 1920s and then again in the 1970s and 1980s.
The second later strain of the disease proved especially virulent and killed most English Elms within a decade – an estimated 20 million trees.
But pockets of elms survived and one in particular survived in Ladywell – the Lewisham Dutch Elm.
The mature tree is thought to be the only remaining specimen of this particular variety or cultivar ( lmus hollandica “Klemmer”) and one of the few remaining Dutch Elms in London.
But thanks to a Lewisham resident Libby Blake it will be soon be joined by two saplings grown from seeds collected from the tree in 2018.
“Ttwo years ago when out walking I found a handful of seeds on the Ladywell Elm in May, and took them home to germinate,” says Libby.
“I now have two reasonably sized trees sitting in pots on my patio and was wondering where to home them.”
After contacting the Ladywell Fields User Group and then Glendale it was agreed to plant the two small trees in Ladywell Fields. The planting will take place over the next week.
Libby is delighted as the young trees “really belong as close to their mother tree as possible, and might help to secure her heritage, and keep her line going.”
The mature tree could live for another 200 years.