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We say goodbye to our much-loved Lucombe Oak tree

It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to an old friend, a grand old sentinel of the Kitchen Garden; our much loved and admired Lucombe Oak in The Ravine.

This handsome specimen started its life on Heligan’s Western Ride around 150 years ago and from a distance looked remarkably healthy. Unfortunately, a combination of rot and gales had severely compromised its internal structure. This resulted in a disturbing noise, half-knocking, half-tearing, which came from the base of the tree. Having taken expert advice, there was only one possible outcome and that was to fell the tree. Due to the tree’s location, the Kitchen Garden was its final destination, so visitors to this precious part of Heligan over the next few weeks will be greeted by a rather forlorn sight.

The Lucombe Oak (Quercus ‘Lucombeana’) is a hybrid, named after William Lucombe, an Exeter nurseryman in the 1760s. It is a cross between the Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris) and the Cork Oak (Quercus suber). One of its characteristics is that it is semi-evergreen, holding on to its leaves until early spring. It was not uncommon for hybrid oaks such as this to be grafted and this may have contributed to our Lucombe’s unfortunate demise.

The spirit of this very special tree will live on within the Heligan Estate as we continue to strive towards a circular economy. The best timber will be sawn into planks, while the remainder will be transformed into anything from a bench to woodchip for paths.

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