Roadside planting for beauty and biodiversity

Roadside tree planting can be beautiful. But should be done with native or exotic species?

Roadside tree planting can be beautiful. But should be done with native or exotic species?

In his introduction to a book on Roadside planting (Country Life, 1930) the Chief Engineer for the Ministry of Transport’s Roads Department (C.H. Bressey) wrote that ‘The services which the Roads Beautifying Association is in a position to render… will be more and more widely sought, with results that will add immeasurably to the pleasure of road users’. The book’s authors state that ‘ We have got to remember that at the moment we have a glorious opportunity, which will not recur in the future as far as we can see, of planting ht roads of England on a comprehensive scale, and, therefore, it behoves us to hand down to posterity a scheme which shows that at any rate someone at this date did take sufficient interst to think out beautiful ways of planting, and not just go in in the same rule-of-thumb method as in the past.’
William Jackson Bean (1863-1947) Curator, Kew Gardens William Dallimore (1871-1959), also of Kew, and Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) are named contributors to the book. With regard to planting policy, they mention the theory that ‘only trees which are indigenous to the British soil should be planted’ but evidently favoured the alternative idea that ‘it is perfectly good taste to make use of trees and shrubs, no matter what the country of their origin, provided they grow well under the conditions to which they are subjected’.
A contemporary book on roadside planting would be more likely to emphasise locally sourced native species, in order to biodiversity.

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