We saw this lovely article first published in The Guardian’s Country Diary in 1916 and share some of it here.

Much of the care and consideration for the tree has stayed the same, though the tree surgery techniques we employ these days have been updated somewhat!

Old Tree Surgery Techniques Using Construction Materials

We still occasionally come across trees that have been “treated” with construction materials and this short piece explains that thoughtful (for the time) approach:

“…one of the old Beeches was lost last winter and was a perfect model of sylvan surgery.  Various amputations had been made at one time or another, and these were so precisely at the right slope and had been so well dressed to keep pout the canker and other ills that the bark had slowly curled over and made perfect scars.

Between two great limbs a fissure had appeared and decay had set in.  The craftsman had dug out and scraped away all the decayed wood, had bored a hole in the stem to the bottom of the hollow and drained away the water.  He had then dressed the wound with creosote and tar, and when it was quote dry, filled it up with bricks and cement.

The outer coat of cement was so skillfully coloured and scored that one had to look very close to detect it.  This hole was too old for the bark to close over the stopping, but, marvelous to relate, when the tree is vigorous and the work done in time, the bark will roll over the cement as it will over the scar when a branch has been sawn away…”

A cleanly healing wound we recently came across in the course of a tree survey – no cement required!


Written by

Toby Douglas is the founder of Take A Bough Tree Care. After university in Aberystwyth, Toby made the decision to study Arboriculture at Merrist Wood, in Surrey. In 2001 he successfully completed a National Certificate in Horticulture, and a National Diploma in Arboriculture, then worked for two years subcontracting to large and respected companies in order to gain the practical experience to compete successfully for both private and corporate contacts once Take a Bough Tree Care was launched

"Toby made a fantastic job of pruning my wisteria in autumn. The tree was cut back exactly as I had specified. "

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