About Us

This website reflects the concerns of an amateur and enthusiast who had the misfortune to see the elms die, and could not simply get over it.  Here are some of those concerns: 

  • This country suffered the effects of Elm Disease perhaps more than any other, but its contribution to breeding and selecting  resistant trees has been negligible;
  • Resistant trees were only imported into this country belatedly and largely thanks to the efforts of other amateurs.  The new trees remain virtually unknown here and do not yet figure in funded planting schemes;
  • At least half the population no longer knows what an elm looks like.  It was recently put to me out of puzzlement that “elm” might be an acronym;
  • Affection for the elm remains high amongst those who remember it, but is periodically dented by initiatives (well-meant) which ignore the science of elm breeding and testing for resistance.

I have worked on and off with elms since the age of 14, and was photographing them from the moment I knew they were threatened, but would prefer to talk here about the extraordinary co-operation and mutual support which exist among elm amateurs and professionals alike. 

These are the people without whom this website and my current activities could not have come about:

Andrew Brookes, of the Hampshire branch of Butterfly Conservation, who set up the inspirational elm trial site at Great Fontley Farm and has reported on it twice for that body; an indefatigable and stimulating correspondent.

Ronnie Nijboer, formerly of Bonte Hhoek Kwekerijen, and now of Noordplant, instrumental in bringing some of the new hybrids to this country.

Professor Alberto Santini and his colleagues at the IPP, Florence, whose legendary generosity and personal charm have forced we enthusiasts to take ourselves seriously.  I remember an expedition to Umbria in September 2010 with much pleasure.

Peter Bourne, elm identifier extraordinaire, and de facto curator of the National Collection of elms in Brighton.

Matthew Ellis, Lincolnshire farmer and elm collector, who obtained U. “Patriot” by means known only to him.  It has been my pleasure to offer some modest additions to his expanding arboretum.

The purchaser of a book for identifying acorn trees and many others, who in 2010 asked me some pertinent questions about elm, and had the inclination to listen to halting answers.

Eric Collin, who from the heights of his career in French forest genetics, counselled me on softwood propagation when I was trying it for the first time.  The strike rate in that batch was 95%; I put it down to beginners’ luck and Eric’s interest.

Chad Giblin of Minnesota, who goes on elm hunts for me, and whose advice I take.

Hans Heybroek, prince of elm breeders, who I was lucky enough to meet at Great Fontley in 2010.  I look forward to future encounters.

David Herling