Johan Serge Jakobson (documentary filmmaker) talks about making the film:

A big old Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut) has stood on the pond lawn in RBGE’s Edinburgh garden for more than 200 years. Over the last few years the tree has been in decline and the Arboretum team have carried out work to try and keep this tree for another generation.

Last winter arborists Paul Mullany and Chris Coatham reduced the crown, cutting back the larger failing branches to encourage new shoots to grow; they invited me along to film this.

In these short videos Martyn Dickson (RBGE Garden Manager, Arboretum) explains the reduction work and the biodiversity value of old trees such as this in RBGE’s collection.

For me, filming in Edinburgh’s botanic garden in December meant a chance to see the structure, texture and character of the trees here in a faded winter light. Also an opportunity to try to document this beautiful old tree, which I see as a sentinel of time, imagining the changes over the years imprinted within it.

Watching the Arboretum team work long days through wind and rain also gave me some insight into the skill, fortitude and care that goes into maintaining the living collection, and a deep appreciation for those who do this work.

Why are old trees important for biodiversity?

Watch another film by Johan on how this tree and others like it support a wide range of other organisms.

More data on 19687259

The plants in our gardens form part of a scientific research collection and each is given a number when it is acquired. As mentioned in the film the featured Castanea sativa is over two hundred years old and was here before the Royal Botanic Garden moved to Inverleith or we were inclined to give things numbers so it was issued a number when our management system was established in 1968. The tree was included as ‘C’ with four other Sweet Chestnuts in accession 19687259. The factsheet below lists all the trees in the accession. Where they are located and some of the pictures we have of them. It doesn’t give a location for tree ‘B’ because this one has unfortunately died.

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