Keukenhof ‘replaces’ 180 year old beeches

Really? Replace them? (message here)
Heh, this could become interesting…

Don’t get me wrong: I like that they replant the avenue and that they are using the same sort of tree. The removal of the trees has been approved by the local council (in this case: Lisse), who needs to at least give permission for that part of the process. Ten trees have already died and been removed over the last few years. Gradually replacing them would be an option, but the owners want to convey the effect of an avenue with trees of about the same age and height. They will replant the trees in two shifts. 1I do not want to go into the current debate ‘should we replant an avenue gradually, or all at once?’, but I’d like to say this.
It is a hot topic as many beech lined avenues dating from the first half of the 19th century run the risk of being completely wiped away by owners who care more about the safety of their visitors than about cutting away old trees. I do understand their choice, because they are responsible (or will probably be held responsible) when someone gets injured or dies after being hit by a fallen tree or big branch. But I would also like to stretch that there are many situations where the risk is low, besides the fact that the risk of getting hit by a falling tree is part of being outdoors.
Whichever decision is made, it should not be insprired by a dogmatic stance, but by careful assessment of the situation and weighing of the risks.

The new beech trees are said to be of size 70-80 (girth circumference in cm at a height of 1m), which means they are 6-7 meters in height (? please correct me if I’m wrong here). That is quite a considerable size, but while calling this a replacement might be linguistically correct, visually it hardly is.

And historically?

The message contains interesting information, if the estimate of 180 year old trees is correct. There is no knowledge of changes in the layout around 1835-1840 (when an 1830 seedling would ‘usually’ have been planted). J.D. and L.P. Zocher are known to have worked at de Keukenhof in and around 1854. 2It is a pity that a garden magazine mentions J.W. Zocher, when the man was really called J.D. Zocher Jr., ánd worked together on this project with his son L.P. Zocher, but hey: we all make mistakes. This means that if the estimate is correct, the Zochers originally planted 20-25 year old trees in this avenue. We know that is -and was- possible, that is not the interesting part.
What interests me is that the current owners apparently choose to plant trees that are much younger than the current ones have ever been (on this location, ofcourse).

And thus create a beech-lined avenue the Keukenhof has never witnessed before, despite their efforts to ‘maintain the character of an avenue as Zocher intended’. History, being made as we sit behind our computer, typing. This might become more interesting than I thought…

Edit 21/10/2010 I may have jumped to the wrong conclusion here: a few hours after typing the above I took out a tape measure to see what a 70 cm circumference actually looks like. Those new trees at the Keukenhof could easily be of the same age the Zochers used in 1854. Ea-si-ly.
Hope to find out exactly how old they are soon…

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I do not want to go into the current debate ‘should we replant an avenue gradually, or all at once?’, but I’d like to say this.
It is a hot topic as many beech lined avenues dating from the first half of the 19th century run the risk of being completely wiped away by owners who care more about the safety of their visitors than about cutting away old trees. I do understand their choice, because they are responsible (or will probably be held responsible) when someone gets injured or dies after being hit by a fallen tree or big branch. But I would also like to stretch that there are many situations where the risk is low, besides the fact that the risk of getting hit by a falling tree is part of being outdoors.
Whichever decision is made, it should not be insprired by a dogmatic stance, but by careful assessment of the situation and weighing of the risks.
2. It is a pity that a garden magazine mentions J.W. Zocher, when the man was really called J.D. Zocher Jr., ánd worked together on this project with his son L.P. Zocher, but hey: we all make mistakes.
Summary

In an attempt to revitalize the layout and to ensure visitor safety, de Keukenhof is ‘replacing’ 180 year old beeches in an avenue. While they’re at it, they seem to create something de Keukenhof has never witnessed before. Or…

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