Sunday 11 April 2021

Planting Elm Trees

The other day I finished reading this rather excellent book called "Barn Club" about a community project building an elm framed barn using traditional methods. 

One thing that really struck me was how there was still lots of elm trees about if you knew where to look. Not that they get to a good size anymore, unless in a pocket that never got seriously affected by the disease, but there are still some that get to useful timber size. Also how much this timber used to be used. Many of the old carpentry books I've got talk about it's uses, from water pipes to coffins to the hubs of wheels! 

There have also been some steps forward in the elm trees, I did a little investigating and came across a guy on twitter selling the elms that have have been developed by the Spanish government called Ademuz. These are said to be more resistant to Dutch elm  disease so I'm hoping that is true. 

I planted two here, in a place where they could both grow on and upwards. Hopefully my grandchildren can sit in their shade one day!

I also planted two at my brothers - he's just had a hedge put in at the same time as mine - hopefully he can spot them in amongst all the other trees! 

It's interesting, they say they used to plant strips of elm 5 yards wide to harvest useable timber from it, makes me think of agroforestry, if we had another field I'd love to try it out! 

Anyone else planted an elm tree lately? Ever used the timber? 


  1. Hi Kev
    We lived in Somerset from the late 60's. Every field was lined with elm trees then. Tmber yards full of wide planks for soffins. Traditionally, when a child was born, a farmer would plant elm trees, to pay for it's eventual funeral and coffin. Our house had wide floorboards and furniture made from elm. It such a wonderfull grain. It was said to stand being wet or dry, but rotted at the line where it alternated, be it in water or ground. Still have some of the old boards.
    Wonder if it would grow well in Wales, now that so many of our ash are dying.

  2. Our property had so many beautiful elms on it back in the early 70's. It was heartbreaking to see them die, however one very large elm held it's ground for years after the others died. A very late spring snowstorm took it down. There are still elms on our land, but they do not ever grow big.
    I hope your new trees thrive and your children and grandchildren will sit in their shades. Linda

  3. Before America lost the elms, we lost our huge and iconic American Chestnut trees. There is also a program here to develop a chestnut tree that is resistant to blight. I hope someday we can all have our elms and chestnuts back, although the days of the generations old shade tree in the back yard are probably over for good.

  4. We just had to cut down a beautiful elm beside the garage. It died over one summer, leafing out, then the leaves browned and started to fall. There are a few standing here and there, alone on fence rows in farming country to the south of us. As a child, I remember huge elms that are all gone now. I know the wood is tough, stringy, and a beast to split with an axe for firewood!


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