The Gardens and Grounds Section has responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the 300 acres that make up the university campus. This is made up from parkland, formal gardens, loch and woodland. We are also responsible for the many sports fields and nine-hole golf course. The section also looks after snow and ice clearing and salting of paths and roads.
The storm on Tuesday 3 January is said to have been the most ferocious for 30 years and the campus did not escape unscathed. There was a substantial amount of damage to trees - we estimate that over 100 were either uprooted or suffered major damage which led to some roads being blocked -and there was some damage to a few buildings. Jim Struthers, Head of Gardens and Grounds, and six members of his team, got the call to arms whilst most of us were trying to block out the sounds of the storm that was raging around us at home.
The first priority was to clear the roads of fallen trees, which was no mean feat. A number of pine trees had been uprooted and were blocking the road to the residences adjacent to the Pendreich Way chalets. Roads were also blocked near Airthrey Castle, Stirling Management Centre and Property Management. In addition, many of the footpaths around the campus were unusable because of fallen or damaged trees. It is testament to Jim and his team that most of the campus was accessible when staff began to return to work on Thursday 5 January.
Species lost include Oak, Sycamore, Pine, Cherry and Larch. We lost one tree was that was 100 years old and a particularly poignant moment was the sight of a Corsican Pine - which Jim had collected from York as a sapling over 30 years ago – and which had been snapped in two. Work has continued to other areas since the storm, such as the path around the loch and the Henry Milne and Joyce Dunn walks. Few can have failed to notice the sound of chain saws and wood chipping machines as the clear up continues.
Damage to buildings was thankfully limited to the roof at the rear of the Atrium - where the wind stripped the roof covering - a chalet which was damaged by a falling tree and some damage to the roof covering of Murray Hall. In addition, we still have a neighbour’s tree, which was uprooted, leaning up against the Alangrange building off campus. This needs the services of a tree surgeon.
By this time last year, the Gardens and Grounds team had been battling weeks of heavy snow, ice and the lowest temperatures on record to keep the campus open and safe. This team regularly gets the call to come to campus before most of us are awake in the morning and, when there has been a problem, works on into the evening until it has been dealt with. They are a very important part of the E&CS (and University) operation and deserve respect and thanks from all of us.