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Tree doctor saves a very special patient at Werribee

Tuesday 8 April, 2014

A Swamp White Oak tree of national significance has been saved from self-destruction thanks to treatment from a specialist tree doctor. The Heritage listed tree in the garden of the Werribee Mansion developed four large cracks about 40cm wide and 400cm long in one of its huge main branches. If left, it would fall and eventually destroy this majestic tree planted by the Chirnside Family in 1875.

Werribee Park Horticultural staff swung into action. “Within three days of noticing the cracks we had a tree doctor at work, “says Parks Victoria horticulturalist Adam Smith. “He installed four large 600cm galvanised bolts through the damaged branch to prevent further cracking. Then we did some serious pruning to reduce the strain on the branch. Our quick action and the tree doctor’s treatment have saved one of our most special trees from literally falling apart.”

Swamp White Oaks are amazing trees originating in American north eastern forests. They can live up to 300 years and develop a massive leaf canopy of up to 40 metres wide. This creates its own weather pattern underneath so that during summer the temperature under it remains constant at around 22 degrees. They also have spectacular leaves that are dark green on top and silvery white underneath.

“Swamp White Oaks love water,” says Adam Smith, “And this one in Werribee Park is said to be the largest in the state. That’s no doubt due to it being planted in a man-made depression that collects plenty of water. It would seem those early Werribee gardeners knew how to plant such a special tree for posterity.”

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