There stands at Sheffield Park Gardens in East Sussex a 100 year old specimen of Pinus Montezuma Sheffield Park, with a trunk girth of at least 80 cm and height of 15m.
Back in the 1990s this magnificent conifer was an unexpected source of concern for the National Trust (owners of the gardens), because it was the very last of its kind left on the planet.
Pinus Montezuma Sheffield Park
Like panicked zoo keepers trying to entice reproductively incompetent giant pandas, the horticulture team were struggling to create propagation through seed or grafting. Following several failed attempts they contacted Lime Cross Nursery. Co-founder of the nursery, Jonathan Tate, who had years of conifer grafting experience, was determined to safeguard this variety’s future. Sure enough through precision, intuition and experimental rootstock selection the problem was cracked.
Jonathan Tate grafting
Pinus Montezuma Sheffield Park- taken by Marie Stone
Today Lime Cross Nursery are now the proud producers and suppliers of this beautiful specimen, which is almost exclusively available through them.
Pinus Montezuma Sheffield Park at Lime Cross Nursery
This is written with a heavy heart, as Jonathan Tate sadly passed away just over three months ago, following a 7 year battle with cancer. His natural empathy for plants was unquestionable, and his knowledge was so extensive that potentially we won’t ever be able to appreciate its depth.
Jonathan Tate watering newly grafted conifers
We live in a world that sometimes feels ubiquitously contaminated with meaninglessness, such as the loss of young life to disease. These paradoxes of human existence leave us feeling perplexed and hollow. The nursery is an explosion of life; colour, scents, and texture, which is mostly due to Jonathan who spent his life cultivating and creating. This, along with this resuscitation of a species to some extent cushions the blow of our loss here at Lime Cross Nursery.