Update on the trees of TCD

TCT book 1 lo res

If you are lucky to have a copy of the recently launched Trees of Trinity College Dublin (4th Edition) you will have access to the update on the TCD trees.  If you haven’t got a copy as yet I thought it might of interest to post an excerpt from the preface to the booklet written by Daniel L. Kelly and David Hackett, one of the Trinity College Trees team.

 

The TCD collection includes an eclectic mixture of species brought together from all parts of the world. The great majority are deciduous, their changing colours reflecting the rhythm of the seasons. The collection also includes a number of species native to ireland.

What all the trees have in common is that they survive in an urban, inner-city environment, in conditions that are by no means ideal for arboriculture. Although they tend to outlive us, trees are not timeless. In the seven years since the last edition of this booklet was published have seen dramatic changes.

The iconic pair of Oregon Maples in Library square were probably the oldest trees in the College; sadly, one fell suddenly in June 2008 and the other, weakened by fungal attack, had to be felled shortly afterwards.

Oregon Maple falls

Other trees have been lost due to storm damage and as a result of building and other developments.  In the same period, new trees have been planted, and earlier plantings have advanced towards maturity.

Plans for fresh plantings are in gestation. Air pollution has mercifully diminished in recent decades – the increasing diversity of lichens and moses on the trunks and branches is a testimony to this.

However, disturbing climatic trends are becoming evident, with increasing temperatures, greater incidence of drought and increasing frequency and intensity of storms.  Planting plans for the future must take these trends into account.”

Trees of Trinity College Dublin – launch

Trees of Trinity College Dublin (4th edition) – launch of booklet

The new booklet, edited by Daniel Kelly and our own David Hackett, was launched during Green Week, on Wednesday 20th February 2019. The launch was hosted by The Department of Botany and The College Botanical Society. The guest of honour was Thomas Pakenham of Tullynally Castle, Co. Westmeath, Chairman of the Irish Tree Society, historian, writer and tree enthusiast.

Launched at 2.30 p.m. In the beautiful Botany Lecture Theatre and chaired by Professor Jennifer McElwain, Head of Botany. There was two wonderful talks, one entitled ‘The role of the arboretum’ by Thomas Pakenham and the other ‘The trees of Trinity College’ was given by Daniel L. Kelly.

tct trees book 3 lo res

The book itself is a great credit to all involved, the imagery and information on the trees of Trinity College Dublin are meticulously gathered together in a easy to read format and best of all it is easier than ever to locate a specific tree on one of their detailed maps. Well done to all.  

Also included is a lovely image of snow capped Oriental Planes, two of the trees included in our last exhibition. See image below.

tct book 2 lo res

2018/19 Trinity College Trees Project

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Early in January of this year the Trinity College Trees team (Taylor, Hackett and Hassett) in conjunction with Colin Reid and Dr. Conor Buckley of TCD initiated an ambitious new study on the two large Oregon Maple trees in main College Square.  Both sibling trees were estimated to be over 170 years old and were reported to be suffering some difficulties with fungal infection and lack of adequate water to support their huge structure. 

This 2018 project proposed to build on the research and success of their 2017 project, while focusing on the conservation research and efforts to keep these trees healthy.

During the initial phase of the project the team took more scanning electron microscopic images of the Oregon Maples.  Their aim was to make visible fascinating microscopic elements of these two majestic trees. This allowed for an unique way of viewing and engaging with the trees and their conservation in a busy urban setting.  The team were pleased with the results and over the next few months Hassett devised a plan to create a series of site specific art works to install in both Oregon Maples.  The exhibition and series of performance art works were due to launch during September 2018.

Unfortunately in early June 2018 one of 170 year old majestic Oregon Maples collapsed, splitting into many pieces on the lawn of Main square.  The second sister Oregon Maple tree had to be felled two months later over rising public safety concerns.  It was a very emotional time for staff, students, past pupils and the general public as these two trees had been a very important part of the fabric of Trinity College life for such a long period of time.  

The sudden absence of the two trees left the team at a loss on how to proceed with the project.  Following on from the trees demise the team spent a few months investigating what happened all of a sudden that made the them become so unstable and finally leading one to collapse.  In fact tree surveys taken about a year before showed that the trees were in trouble but not critically so.

Various samples were taken from the remains of the two majestic but fragile Oregon Maple Trees in College Square.  The team sought to explore the structural integrity of the wood samples. After reviewing the scientific and conservations reports it was concluded that both trees just didn’t have enough water in their systems to keep them upright.  They had become so brittle and lacking in water that many of the bolts of the cable bracing system helping to support them had pulled through the thick limbs.  

After a thought provoking collaborative conversation with David Hackett we realised that the two children trees, descendant from the fallen trees and also sited on campus, were also suffering, although to a lesser extent, of drought.  The team decided to re-focus the direction of the project onto the two remaining Oregon Maples in Trinity College Dublin.  They have also narrowed their focus of exploration to the scientific and conservation research and possible future outcomes of the lack of sufficient water in the Oregon Maples of Trinity College Dublin.  

After successfully getting an extension to the project deadline they now plan to launch in Spring 2019.  Proposed artistic responses will include a months display of new artworks installed in both trees, a series of live performances and indoor exhibition on the TCD campus.

Current artistic inspirations include collaborative work on a bio-plastic art material with Conor Buckley and the development of a device that will be able to record the inner sounds of the Oregon Maples drinking water in conjunction with Jeffrey Roe. Other work in progress include the development of drawings on hand made paper using materials gathered from the fallen trees.

2016/17 Trinity College Trees Project

Trinity Trees Team 2 at PROBE at TCD

The 2016/17 Trinity College Trees Project, Making Visible the Invisible, celebrated scientific, conservation and artistic research into the physiology of eight trees situated on the main campus of Trinity College Dublin.

Over a period of eighteen months TCD staff  Professor David Taylor,  David Hackett,  Clodagh Dooley and Olivia Hassett meet regularly to collaborate on this ambitious project. Two sets of Scanning Electron microscopic sampling and imaging were undertaken to reflect the changing seasons and conditions during the project.

In response to the collaborative research and microscopic imagery collected the artist created a series of site specific innovative art works, which were installed in the eight trees throughout the campus. A series of performances by Hassett with the Oregon Maple in the main square formed part of PROBE European Researchers night event September 29th 2017 launching the exhibition to much acclaim.

The Trinity College Trees exhibition was supported by a series of guided walks while also offering a self guided walk and supporting audio piece detailing information on each tree and the inspiration behind the installed artworks.

This blog outlines the project background information, research and inspiration behind these works.

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Reintroducing David Hackett

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David Hackett first qualified in amenity Horticulture in 1979 and 1980 through the National Botanic gardens , Glasnevin , Dublin and the RHS. He also holds various work associated qualifications eg. Chainsaw certified, telescopic handler certified.

In 2006 he was awarded advanced qualifications with the Royal Horticultural society .

His specialism is in turf culture [Grass] and trees and he currently hold a tree risk assessment from the International Society of Arborists.

Employment has range from working in garden centres, commercial fruit and vegetable production, indoor pot plant production and for the Parks department of Dun Laoghaire corporation for thirteen years. He has been employed on the Trinity College grounds staff for the past twenty four years.

He is one of the editors of the Trees of Trinity College Dublin publication: ISBN 978-1871408737

Installed artworks: Day 7 – The Cherry Blossom Tree


IMAG5139David Hackett talking about the installed Cherry Blossom Tree artwork during the guided walk in September 2017

Most of the varieties of Cherry Blossoms have been cultivated for ornamental use and do not produce fruit. Along with the chrysanthemum, the cherry blossom is considered the national flower of Japan. Again the microscopic worlds of the trees form the backbone of this artwork. Hassett’s focus on scale and miniaturisation led her research to the arts forms of the Japanese Bonsai and Chinese Penjing.  See below some of the SEM images taken from the Cherry Blossom Tree.

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For this artwork Hassett chose to focus on the reproductive system of the Cherry Blossom, specifically the pollen grains. Pollen grains carry the male reproductive information and are unique in shape and pattering depending on the species.  See below SEM imagery taken by Clodagh Dooley of the  groups of and individual pollen grains.

In a nod to the millions of identical pollen grains to be found on the Cherry Blossom Hassett decided to create an artwork using multiples of the same material. Hundreds of recycled plastic net plant drainers were manipulated and grouped together not unlike how the the bonsai control and force huge number of flowers together to shape blocks of colour.

Alongside the white plastic netting Hassett also used neon pink and green wired Lycra netting for this artwork.  A huge thank you to Recreate who salvage large quantities of reusable materials from businesses for use in creative projects.  See images below of the installed artwork.

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