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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 02:18 GMT 03:18 UK
In pictures: The storm lashes Kew

Devastation at Kew Gardens after the 1987 storm (pic: RBG Kew)

When the sun rose on 16 October 1987, Kew Gardens, Surrey, was a scene of utter devastation. Some 700 mature trees, some rare and centuries old, were lost in one wild night.

Kew Gardens

Today, it is hard to imagine the scale of the damage. Only the small stature of many of the trees gives a clue that they were planted recently to replace those lost.

Tree brought down on King William Temple after 1987 storm (pic: RBG Kew)

Many of the trees destroyed were precious specimens. One of them, the Chinese Tree of Heaven, came crashing down onto the then newly restored King William Temple.

King William Temple, Kew Gardens

Now the temple is back to its former glory and sits in a lush Mediterranean garden, surrounded by sturdy palm trees.

Devastation at Kew Gardens after the 1987 storm (pic: RBG Kew)

Kew's heartbroken staff had to pull out the remains of many trees which were unstable and unsafe. Some feared it would be a century before the gardens recovered.

Chestnut leafed oak, Kew Gardens

Some grand specimens did survive the winds. This chestnut-leafed oak is the biggest tree at Kew - 35ft wide and high. It stood firm while bigger neighbours fell.

Devastation at Kew Gardens after the 1987 storm (pic: RBG Kew)

The storm exposed roots to study and revealed that many were suffering badly from compaction. It was clear that trees had been left vulnerable to the winds by poor planting.

Kew Gardens

Now root management is key. Each tree has a circle of mulch around it like a real forest floor. This reduces compaction by encouraging micro-organisms which turn and aerate the soil.

Devastation at Kew Gardens after the 1987 storm (pic: RBG Kew)

When staff audited what had been brought down they realised there were great gaps in Kew's collection, both in terms of species and geographical representation.

Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum at Kew Gardens

Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum, made it his mission to fill those gaps by embarking on collecting expeditions worldwide. This Chinese tulip is one of his prize finds.

Wood carving made from trees brought down in the storm

A wood carving in Kew's visitor centre stands as a reminder to the storm's might. It is made up of 1,000 pieces of wood all taken from trees brought down that night.



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