Posts By: Mark Chester

‘The Busy Season’

We are about to enter what could be described as the ‘busy season’, in terms of the volume of shows, conferences and seminars over the next few months.  I have just booked the CAS plot at APF 2014, where I will have the joys of erecting the marquee (this is the only event I attend for CAS where no trade stand facilities are provided).  I am also about to reserve the plot for the ARB Show, which promises to be a far more friendly and familiar scene.

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The Plant Health Index

Using chlorophyll fluorescence to assess the vigour and condition of plants is not new science.  Indeed, it has been used in the cut flower trade for more than thirty years.  I first encountered it during a seminar being run by the ISA back in about 2001.  In that seminar, two plants were tested, one showing signs of stress via the test, even though both, externally, appeared to be healthy.  The plant exhibiting stress had been sprayed with glyphosate earlier in the day, which explained its’ condition.

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The use of templates

As I have developed my report writing skills, I have come to appreciate the value and role of the template as a tool for writing the appropriate report.  Indeed, it is a key element to successfully completing the Cardiff University Expert Witness qualification.  Correctly applied, it ensures that each report follows the recognised layout and order.  It also helps to avoid the need to write out common text afresh for each report, making the process more streamlined.  The author can additionally have confidence that nothing is being left out.

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The Duke of Wellington’s Cedar at Kington Lacey

I am not familiar with this site; it is one I have yet to visit.  However, Jeremy Barrell knows both the site and its formally historically important Cedar, planted in the 1700s by the Duke of Wellington to celebrate Nelson’s victory over Napoleon Bonaparte.  The tree was both an excellent specimen and of historic importance.

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The Barcham’s Way

I have come over to Barcham’s for the first seminar in the road show to publicise the new BS8545, presented by Keith Sacre, Peter Thurman and Jeremy Barrell.  I’ll be reviewing this later on.  However, I decided to make the most of my time over here to view the production operation, something I haven’t done before.

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BS8545 Road Show

After four years in production, and several re-writes, the new BS 8545 ‘Young Trees: From Nursery to Independence in the Landscape’ has finally been printed.  To mark this, the Arboricultural Association has begun a road show, starting at Barcham Trees.  I was able to attend, and was treated to a range of presentations by three speakers who are expert in their own fields.  Each of Keith Sacre, Peter Thurman and Jeremy Barrell is capable of holding an audience for the whole day, and I suspect that there are several PhDs among them as well.

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Young Trees: It is published, now to explain it.

Keith Sacre, one of the legends of modern arboriculture (at least, in my opinion) shares how, in a possible moment of madness, some four years ago, he was talking to another legend, Mick Boddy (AA Registered Consultant, winner of the AA’s Arboriculture Award and Chairman of the British Standards in Arboriculture Committee).  Mick invited Keith to review an existing British Standard covering the planting of young trees.

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So, what do you do?

I was recently asked to describe what I do, and a typical week.  It was then that I realised how difficult it is to explain exactly what this is.  I’m a tree consultant!  OK, so what does one of those do?  I have been asked if I need someone to do stump grinding, and someone rang me this week to ask how much diesel I use in my fleet.  I have the amazing fleet of one car, which does me fine!

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Barcham’s Training Room in Demand

Back in 2005, Barcham’s Tree Nursery extended their office facilities and built a new training room.  Shortly after this, Keith Sacre, the Nursery’s Sales Director, had a brain wave.  He appreciated the difficulties that many arborists, and especially those in employed roles, particularly with local authorities, have funding attending seminars and conference.  So he arranged for speakers to present technical seminars using the training room, which can seat 60 delegates.  The speakers didn’t charge, and neither did Barcham’s, allowing many who would otherwise miss out, to attend and learn.

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The value of mentoring

Mentoring is recognised as a valuable way to pass skills from one generation to the next.  Training ventures such as apprenticeships, with structured learning, usually within a team, are helping to span the skills gap.  However, many in arboriculture, as well as horticulture, work alone or as specialists within a team, with little support.  One is often deemed to be the expert, even when the feeling may be far this.

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