By Karrie Gillett
A GIANT palm tree has been chopped down before it burst through the glass roof of the greenhouse where it was stored.
Staff at the Palm House in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens spent more than eight hours removing the 61-foot tree after it just kept on growing.
Scaffolding was placed around the 48-year-old Livistona australis tree as it was torn apart branch by branch.
Fiona Inches, supervisor of glasshouses, explained how they were unable to save the tree by cutting it back as it would kill the plant.
She said: “The tree keeps pushing its leaves through the glass dome and breaking the glass.
“Unfortunately palm trees have their growing tip right at the top of the tree and if you cut that off you are effectively killing the plant so it’s not as if we can prune it to make it fit.
“It’s an old Victorian glass house and we can’t have it damaging the structure.
“It’s a shame for the plant because it really isn’t very old but it’s obviously a very fast grower. We have a tree next door which is a similar height but it’s about 200 years old.”
The massive tree was planted in September 1960 after the UK’s tallest palm was cut down when it reached 72ft.
Yesterday (TUE), the removal of the tree proved a lengthy process with each branch taken away a section at a time.
The 61-foot main stem was then chopped down to a stump slice by slice after all the leaves had been trimmed away.
And Fiona insisted that the plant’s presence would be sorely missed in the hot house but hopes were high for a replacement tree which was planted in 2005 and has the potential of reaching the top dome in 80 years.
She said: “The dome is a wide open space and we actually only have one other tree that’s near that height.
“The tree’s been a friend for a long time so it’s going to be a bit of a shame to come in every morning and it’s not there.
“But we will also be slightly relieved when it is all over as this is a big operation to remove the tree and the stump.”
After the tree’s fibrous roots and stump are dug out the root buttress will be displayed along with other removed palm stumps in the corridor to the Orchid House at the gardens.