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I’ve spent much of today hunkered down in my office, looking out at a scene of wild and woolly weather.

We’ve had gales of about 60-70 mph here – not quite as bad as the coast, where it’s got to 80mph, but quite bad enough. My heart is in my mouth on days like these: with the ground already sodden after a wet winter, the trees’ roots are loose in the ground and so vulnerable to a big gust. Luckily – or unluckily, depending on how you look at it – the only casualty so far has been the cherry tree over the road: as you can see, it’s lost most of its crown, and it was in full blossom, too. I hear one of the Scots pines in the woods nearby has gone down, too. We’re surrounded by trees here, so it’s rare that we have a storm and nothing suffers.

I’m old enough to remember the hurricane of ’87, and though it’s not exactly been that sort of thing today, it’s quite bad enough. Then, most of Kew was flattened and we lost some of our oldest historic trees – grown men wept when they first saw the devastation. I’m hoping we won’t have any reports of that sort of damage today, but I do also remember that then it was a time of renewal: a lot of plantings that had become stale and tired-looking were rejuvenated as new saplings, often in re-thought designs and in exciting new varieties, were planted to replace the old dinosaurs. As they say, it’s an ill wind…

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