King Charles confirmed as first recipient of Sycamore Gap seedling

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The beloved Sycamore Gap Tree near Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland | © National Trust Images/John Millar

The first successful seedling nurtured from seeds collected from the 200-year-old Sycamore Gap tree after it was illegally felled by an act of vandalism last September has been gifted to His Majesty The King.

The 15-metre-tall sycamore was previously a much-loved feature in the landscape, which stood proudly on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. 

The King, who is Patron of the National Trust and a long-time environmentalist, also confirmed that the seedling will be planted when it has matured into a sapling in Windsor Great Park for visitors to enjoy as a symbol of the hope and beauty that can come from loss. 

The hope is that once the tree has established that in time the wind will help ensure its seeds are even more widely distributed – rooted in the past, flourishing in the present and carried into the future. 

A seedling from the Sycamore Gap tree growing at the Plant Conservation Centre | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust said:

“It is wonderful news that His Majesty will one day have the very first sapling grown from this iconic tree. The new tree will be seen by many thousands each year and will be the first of many Sycamore Gap saplings planted at different places, in Northumberland and beyond. 

“The swell of emotion we saw after the sycamore was felled goes to show how personally connected we all are to our natural heritage. These new green shoots are keeping the story of the Sycamore Gap alive, and are serving as a reminder of the simple, and much-needed hope, joy and respite that nature can bring.” 

The seedling is one of a collection of small seedlings and buds propagated at the conservation charity’s Plant Conservation Centre in Devon. So far charity experts have successfully propagated more than 100 seedlings and more than 40 cuttings from the felled tree. 

The public received a first glimpse of the first Sycamore Gap seedling in the National Trust show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show last week where it was placed in a garden inspired by the charity’s founder, Octavia Hill with the aim of reflecting how everyone needs access to nature, beauty and gardens. 

Dame Judi Dench and competition winner Charlotte Crowe with the Sycamore Gap seedling in The Octavia Hill Garden at Chelsea Flower Show | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Andy Jasper, Director of Gardens & Parklands at the National Trust said:

“It was quite overwhelming and incredibly humbling to see the public’s reaction to the very first seedling to successfully germinate and grow at our special plant conservation centre, on display at the Chelsea Flower Show last week. 

“Personally, it gave me so much joy to tell its story to the thousands of visitors to the stand – and to witness and to feel the outpouring of emotions first-hand of what this tiny sapling means to so many across the country.” 

The seedling will continue to be cared for by expert horticulturists until it is ready for planting. Planting plans for the other surviving seedlings will be announced by the charity later this year including in Northumberland.

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