Mature elm trees in the English landscape are something I and many other have never seen. Dutch Elm Disease killed them all in the 1960s. Only the older generation can remember what we have lost. Browsing through some local photos from the 1930s this weekend, my eyes were opened to the size and grace of the elms that once existed. Here are some of those photos, from Capel, Kent. Beneath each one I show a picture of what the scenes look like today.
Alders Road (above) was an avenue of elms as it passed Capel Church and Church Farm in the 1930s. Today the majestic elms are lost, but shoots still come up from their roots, grow for 12 years, and succumb again to Dutch Elm Disease.
Capel Church had a huge elm in the south corner of its churchyard in the 1930s. Today the elm is long gone, but the nearby yew trees, and the churchyard itself, have grown significantly.
Despite much effort from the 1960s onwards, an English Elm that is resistant to Dutch Elm disease has never been bred. Perhaps it is time to try again using new genomic techniques?