This large copper beech tree stood in Jephson Gardens, close to the Davis Clock, for almost 170 years. According to Leamington History Group member Robin Stott, the tree dates back as far as the late 1840s when Edward Willes’ Newbold Gardens were remodelled and renamed Jephson Gardens.
The tree was felled in 2013 because although it appeared healthy to passers-by, it was diagnosed with a root-rotting fungus, Meripilus Giganteus, which infected the roots, causing them to decay and die. Beech trees are particularly prone to the disease and this tree is likely to have been infected for some time. If left, the tree was likely to fail either within the crown or the root system, which meant that the only course of action was to remove it. There was a time when an infected tree like this would have been felled and every trace of it removed.
Fortunately, Warwick District Council were much more imaginative.
Contractors scaled the tree in March 2013 and took it down almost branch by branch. Then the very talented Birmingham sculptor and woodcarver Graham Jones was commissioned to transform the trunk, and by June 2013 the stump had been sculpted into something quite amazing, with carved reliefs of significant national and local events in the life of the tree. Parts of the main trunk lie on the ground close by, for children to climb on.
Allan Jennings June 2013