0 Blenheim Palace groundsman's team to pick up 35,000 acorns

Robert Burgess believes that this season's harvest will be the best year yet

A groundsman at Blenheim Palace is painstakingly picking 35,000 acorns so the historic estate can carry on growing its impressive oak tree collection. Robert Burgess, 55, has worked as part of the forestry team for 16 years tending to the largest collection of veteran oaks in Europe.

One of the oaks specimens on the Oxfordshire estate - the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill - is 1,049-years-old and the huge trees produce so many acorns that it is possible to harvest thousands in just a few days. Six years ago, Blenheim started harvesting acorns to grow on and then replant on the 2,000 acres estate in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint by not having to import young trees.

This year Mr Burgess is working with three colleagues to collect a bountiful harvest of green acorns after last year was barren owing to a bad spring. They are picking them over the next fortnight and are carefully avoiding any with weevils or signs of rot.

The acorns will germinate in trays before being placed in potted compost and grown in polytunnels. The saplings will be planted out next autumn. Some of the potted saplings will be sold to visitors of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mr Burgess believes that this season's harvest will be the best year yet, more than doubling the 11,000 acorns picked in 2020. He said: "This time next year the saplings will all be planted in the plots they will be in for the next 1,000 years.

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