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Victoria Park’s ‘Three Sisters’ replanted after 40 years

Published on Thursday, March 22, 2018

AN iconic part of a Leicester park’s horticultural history is being restored with the replacement of three elm trees lost to disease almost 40 years ago.

The trees stood at the centre of Victoria Park but had to be removed after Dutch elm disease struck in the late 1970s.

Leicester City Council’s trees team has worked with the ‘Friends of Victoria Park’ group on the proposal to replace the trees, which were affectionately known as the ‘Three Sisters’ or ‘Topper’s Spinney’.

This week, the iconic ‘Three Sisters’ will be restored with the planting of a disease resistant cultivar of elm called ‘New Horizon’, which has been successfully reintroduced in other cities.

The work will cost around £4,000 and is being funded through the Story of Parks project – a Heritage Lottery-funded scheme that is celebrating the history of Leicester's parks through the stories and memories of the local people who use them.

Deputy City Mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and public health, said: “The ‘Three Sisters’ stood proud in the centre of Victoria Park until they, like many long-standing trees in the city, were lost to Dutch elm disease.

“By reintroducing a new species of elm at the same spot that these trees stood some 40 years ago, we’re able to restore an iconic part of the park’s horticultural history. We hope that they stand as a monument to the city’s attitude to trees for generations to come.”

Sally Williams, local resident and member of the Friends of Victoria Park, said: “The park’s elms were magnificent and popular for their shelter and shade.  I watched with sadness when they were felled and always hoped to see their reintroduction. I am delighted this is now happening and would like to thank those involved.

“I feel sure they will be as valuable to people and wildlife in the future as their predecessors were in the past.”

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The ‘Three Sisters’ are a wonderful example of how trees have played an important role in Leicester’s history and we want to ensure that continues long into the future.

“We have over 150,000 trees in our stock, 107 hectares of woodland and almost 16 per cent of the city is under tree canopy. That is the result of a long-standing commitment to trees that will be further strengthened by our new citywide tree strategy.”

The city council began consultation on the Leicester Tree Strategy in December 2017. The new strategy is due to be published in May 2018.