Home Comment RHS Wisley: plea to save trees from A3 plan

RHS Wisley: plea to save trees from A3 plan

The treeline at RHS Wisley, no longer under threat by A3 widening plans. Picture; RHS/Carol Sheppard
The treeline at RHS Wisley, no longer under threat by A3 widening plans. Picture; RHS/Carol Sheppard

Sign petition to save garden’s historic woodland

Gardeners have been asked to sign a petition to save one of the country’s most iconic gardens from road widening plans which could see more than 10,000 sqm of woodland lost.

Highways England (HE) plans to widen the A3 next to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley, a Grade II listed garden, in Surrey.

If the development goes ahead, more than 500 trees could be destroyed, including one planted by The Queen to mark her Silver Jubilee.

There are two options available to HE to widen the road: one on the east side of the A3 and one on the west. The RHS has carried out studies and is calling on HE to choose the east option which does not affect the woodland and would better improve road access to Wisley.

Destroying wildlife, increasing air pollution

Trees that are more than 100 years old could be felled for a road scheme which would increase air pollution and destroy a range of wildlife habitats.

Wisley autumn
The Rock Garden and Glasshouse at Wisley in autumn. Picture; RHS/Carol Sheppard

Losing this 30m (100ft) natural barrier of trees on Wisley’s boundary would be visually devastating and could also increase noise pollution in the garden.

The RHS supports plans to improve the M25 Junction 10/A3 Wisley interchange but is concerned that the two options being put forwards would involve widening the A3 and could take land for the garden.

The RHS has had expert highway studies carried out and has come up with a viable option, which would allow widening of the A3 on the east side, saving the woodland. In addition, a new route from the east, with other modifications, would allow greater accessibility now and in the future for the garden’s 1.2 million visitors a year.

There is concern that some proposals would involve extra travel for visitors to get to Wisley, some adding more than 3.7 miles to the journey.

Important trees that would be lost include:

  • The Queen’s Tree, planted by the RHS’ Patron Queen Elizabeth II to mark her Silver Jubilee.
  • Five trees identified as threatened and endangered in cultivation by Plant Heritage’s Threatened Plants Project, including a Norway maple (Acer platanoides Olmsted), a beech (Fagus sylvatica Quercifolia), two hollies (Ilex John T. Morris and Ilex aquifolium Frogmore Silver) and a lime tree (Tilia americana Redmond).
  • Excellent specimens of the giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) would also be at risk.

How you can help

Alan Titchmarsh
Alan Titchmarsh – plea for country’s gardeners to help save Wisley’s trees

Sign the petition and help save RHS Garden Wisley and 500 of its important trees under threat from potential HE plans.

RHS Ambassador Alan Titchmarsh said: “This potential garden grabbing plan would be another unacceptable example of this government’s poor perception of horticulture and lack of appreciation of the vital role that plants play for the environment, for the nation’s health and well-being and for the UK economy.

“Wisley is the UK’s centre of excellence for horticulture and horticultural science and helps millions of people to garden and grow plants.

“I’m calling on the UK’s army of 27 million gardeners to make it known that a disregard for these important trees and lack of appreciation of the national importance of this garden would not be acceptable if the short sighted and environmentally damaging option was chosen. We must stand together and protect our gardens.”

RHS director general Sue Biggs added: “It would be criminal for this irreplaceable woodland to be lost when another viable plan would avoid cutting down these century-old trees and still meet the important need to widen the A3.

“The role that these trees play in mitigating against pollution, giving a home to wildlife and providing a visual and noise barrier to preserve the peace and productivity of the garden cannot, and must not, be underestimated.”

To help, sign the petition now.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.


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