HCC’s Street Trees Team has been taking a very active part in planting trees on our borough’s highways. A total of 239 trees have been planted this season, the majority in Waterlooville and around Havant Town with 18 in Emsworth and 58 on Hayling Island.
Several have been disease-resistant Elm, e.g. 6 Ulmus New Horizon have been planted in the verge opposite the Saxon Corner development on Havant Road to replace trees felled for the new traffic lights. “New Horizon” is a non-suckering elm grown exclusively by Hillier as part of the resister elm breeding programme.
We hope the Havant elm plantings will provide habitat for threatened White-Letter Hairstreak butterflies, dependent on elm for breeding grounds since their caterpillars’ sole food is elm leaves – when Dutch Elm Disease killed millions of UK elms in the 1970s it also devastated the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly population which dropped by 96%.
This once common butterfly is now at critically low levels, but in time we might be able to watch a colony of White-letter Hairstreaks in these elms – the males competing in spiralling aerial fights over territory over the canopy, while the females search for egg-laying places lower down.
Even better news is that HCC Highways Street Tree Team are able to increase the number of trees they can plant, starting in winter 2021/22. They have asked for our help in finding suitable verges and roadsides – in time, there will be a special link on the HCC website where requests for Highway trees can be made, but if you send your suggestions to email@example.com we will collate them and pass them on.
Each suggested site will be surveyed, although some of course may not be suitable (perhaps there are underground services or not enough room for roots to grow strongly), so look at your area, and let’s help more trees thrive in Havant.