The Weeping Ash tree at Heeswijk Castle has been standing directly in front of the 11th-century moated castle for nearly 130 years. The Weeping Ash had experienced some difficult years. Work carried out in the immediate vicinity of this monumental tree is probably the cause of the decline in its health. The subsoil is certainly not a tree friendly environment. In addition the courtyard has also been raised over the centuries with debris from the castle renovations that have taken place in the past. In this poor soil the Weeping Ash was planted at the time. TreeParker offered a solution.
The tree was planted in 1890 in memory of Louis Marie Chrétien van den Bogaerde of Terbrugge, Lord of Heeswijk and Dinther. It was customary at the time to plant a Weeping Ash after the death of a jonkheer [an honorific in the Low Countries]. After that the soil has been disturbed numerous times over the past 130 years. The coach house, for example, was rebuilt a few decades ago. Fuel oil tanks have also been removed from the ground, which were probably put there when the Baron and Baroness moved into the castle in 1949.
The challenge: more than firewood
And so the challenge followed: improving the situation. Because tree-technical study carried out by BVB substrates and the growing site study showed that the Weeping Ash was suffering from ash dieback, but it was still reasonably vital and worth preserving. Nothing can be done about the tree’s disease, which is chronic, but the aim has been to provide the ash tree with the best possible quality of life as long as it is still there. Cutting it down and planting something new was not an option. This noble tree could not simply be discarded as firewood. It was decided to improve the habitat by widening the current open tree pit where possible. Preference was given to the largest possible planting pit. But, as is so often the case, several functions on the square on which the Weeping Ash stands had to be taken into account at this location. The square is for instance used for parties and weddings because of its enchanting atmosphere. Expanding the tree pit would be at the expense of the limited paved area. There is also a terrace on the square near the tree and there are benches underneath. It would be a pity if the square had to lose its appearance and functionality and the benches could no longer be placed under the tree.
The solution: TreeParker
Out of respect for the old tree the required aeration and irrigation system was provided, and the tree pit was also expanded without affecting the design. The TreeParker soil cells system allowed for the tree pit to be enlarged by the required volume, without requiring visible adjustments above ground. The original design remained intact and the tree was given the root space it deserves. The TreeParker provided an uncompacted soil volume and made it possible to pave on top of the bunkers. The benches could be returned under the tree. This allowed the square to retain its aesthetic character, while still improving the living conditions of the tree.
Result beyond expectations
Following the required adjustments, it was estimated that the tree still has 15 years remaining, despite the chronic disease. Now, one year after the installation of the TreeParker system, the tree is doing better than expected. After years of declining life expectancy, the Weeping Ash is busy recovering. The tree’s roots now seem to be searching for food in the soil cells. The Weeping Ash has become more vital and the leaves have become stronger. The healthier and better the living conditions, the better the resistance against diseases. Unfortunately, almost all Weeping Ash trees suffer from ash dieback and many of them die as a result, but not all: it varies based on the situation. But an ash tree with favourable conditions has a better chance of outgrowing the disease.