Date: 17 January 2001
Originally published in: Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium)
Written by: Ivo Meulemans
“A new European record is in the making”, Maurice Van Dyck, big boss of tree nursery Arbor in Houtvenne, laughs. A plane tree of 18,5 metres tall is on its way to England since yesterday afternoon. If all goes well, the tree arrived this morning in the harbour of Hull.
There are records in all shapes and weights. But here are the statistics. The plane tree that moved from Houtvenne to England yesterday is 60 years old. It’s 18,5 metres high, has a circumference of 1,05 metres and weight seven tons. In order to bring the tree across the Channel alive, it is moved with roots and all.
The giant left the terrain of the tree nursery yesterday at noon. “The tree was on our property for 40 years. Does the farewell hurt? It doesn’t. We have a lot of large plane trees here still. I’m not saying they are as big, but there are still a few that are thicker.”, says Van Dyck. “There’s no shortage of big trees here. Our business covers some 400 acres in Houtvenne, Diest and France.”
The tree is a true attraction with the Brits. During its travel it had the company of Kim Wilde. The singer scored some super hits in the eighties with Kids in America and Touch Me. “The plane tree will be an item in her TV show. The progam is about designing gardens”, says Van Dyck. “Together with the buyer Wilde arrived here on Monday. She spent one night in a hotel in Westerlo.”
The tree went on board in Zeebrugge at 18 hours. “The truck on which the tree was loaded was more than 20 metres long. With that thing telephone poles are transported through the country”, Van Dyck knows. “In Great Britain our giant tree will get police escort from beginning to end. The final destination is Winwick Park in Warrington near Manchester. The pride of Kempen will get a permanent spot in the garden of a villa district.”
It’s the second time in a year that Maurice Van Dyck gets into the paper. In February last year his firm fell victim to the boycot against Austria, which minister Louis Michel called for. An Austrian client of Arbor reacted immediately. He called Van Dyck, announcing that he would buy his trees in Germany and Holland from now on.