For many years the Devon Gardens Trust has run a successful programme of garden recording, in which overall garden features such as design, planting and history are assessed. The Trust became aware of the need to record and look more closely at trees in gardens and other localities, an awareness which coincided with a burgeoning interest in veteran trees by other organisations.
The early development of a DGT Tree Register was given a fillip when the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, put out widely a request for information about the occurrence of mature trees of Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani, with the objective of identifying trees introduced into this country early in the 18th Century, trees of known provenance, without hybridisation. In consequence, the Trust ran a programme "Cedar Search" throughout Devon, asking for information, to which many garden owners responded.
The DGT Tree Register embraces 'significant' trees, which may be large (height and/or girth), unusual garden species, have an historical association, or form a distinctive component of the landscape. With these parameters our interests differ from other organisations which are often largely concerned with veteran trees. We aim to fill a gap between publicly funded bodies, such as local authorities and other organisations, such as Wild Life Trusts.
Information is acquired by volunteers, Tree Recorders, who visit gardens at the invitation of garden owners. They record the salient features of interesting trees, girth, height, canopy size, reproductive characters, and general well being. Trees are photographed. Young trees are also recorded, the information contributing to growth rates in relation to environmental conditions.
The information obtained is added to a DGT database from which facts may be selected and extracted on request. The DGT Tree Register give a picture of garden trees in Devon from the start of the 21st century; it will have value in future research, especially in view of projected climate change. Our records are confidential, divulged only with permission from the garden owner.
Garden owners are generally proud of their trees; Recorders are made welcome and frequently visit beautiful gardens not open to the public. The work of the Tree Recorders is voluntary. Expenses are paid by the Trust. Recorders are trained in techniques of measurement and recording.
Trust wishes to involve the public more widely in its activities, either as Recorders, or as Spotters telling us about the location of interesting trees. Where a tree is in a private garden, and not clearly visible from a road, permission must be sought from the owner, to forward information.
We welcome help and support from the public. Membership of the Trust is not a prerequisite to act as a Recorder or a Spotter.