Help make Monmouth’s Catalpa ‘Tree of the Year 2020’

From Tuesday 25th August, the Woodland Trust will be launching its Tree of the Year campaign and this year the short-list includes Monmouth’s magnificent Catalpa tree, situated in the centre of St James Square.

Now the call is out for Monmouthshire residents to vote on the Woodland Trust’s website and help make this much-loved local landmark ‘Tree of the Year’.

Local resident Mary Kennedy, who put the tree forward for the award, said: “I nominated the Catalpa, because have always admired it. It’s very impressive in size and stature, and looks majestic. The tree is beautiful whatever the season and it has withstood the test of time.

“It’s also a fitting backdrop to the war memorial commemorating the soldiers who gave their lives so bravely. We come together for Remembrance Day services by the Catalpa so now it seems only fitting that the community should come together and vote to celebrate its unique place in our town.”

The Catalpa bignonioides, more commonly known as the Indian bean tree, is said to have been planted c.1900 and is thought to be one of the largest and best specimens in the UK. Beside it stands Monmouth’s war memorial, amongst a garden filled with pollinator-friendly wild flowers and grasses.

Councillor Jane Pratt, cabinet member with responsibility for Climate Emergency said: “I am so pleased to see Monmouth’s Catalpa tree on the short-list for this year’s awards. While it’s not the oldest of trees, as an example of its species, its prominent position and its ecological value makes it very special. I hope that everyone in Monmouth and across the county will get behind the nomination and vote online. The winning tree in each nation will receive not only recognition, but also a £1,000 care award to help the tree live a long and healthy life, for generations to come.

“We know that apart from the beauty they bring to any setting, trees are vital for the ecosystem, for wildlife and for people, contributing to clean air, flood prevention and wellbeing. That’s why as part of the council’s Climate Emergency work, we are committed to planting ten thousand trees across the county in the next three years. These will be a mix of native species and ornamental varieties where the settling is appropriate. In addition to this, our grounds maintenance teams are tasked with preserving as many of our trees as possible, while facing challenges such as new and emerging tree diseases.

“Old trees are incredibly important, historically and environmentally. Approximately 15 years ago Monmouth’s Catalpa tree was at risk of falling down, but thankfully work by our team of tree specialists helped stabilise it and now it’s thriving. It would be lovely to think that it will still be there in another century’s time.”

Previous winners of the ‘Tree of the Year’ award include an ancient oak tree that is said to have served as a medieval courthouse, a young copper beech tree in the playground of a Scottish primary school and a Welsh parkland sweet chestnut you can stand inside. 

For information on how to vote visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear

Residents are encouraged to vote from Tuesday 25th August, until 24th September 2020.