AN INSECT infestation is threatening 180-year-old English elms at Clarendon, but plant lovers yesterday mounted a campaign at the historic estate to save the graceful trees.
It was called the Spring Plant Hunters Day, and stalls at the estate near Evandale offered potplants, garden books, food and talks to publicise the plight of the elms and raise money to inoculate them against the elm leaf beetle.
Clarendon manager Jennie Chapman said the 129 elms, planted in the 1830s, needed an injection every three years to repel the leaf-eating beetles - a process that would cost $24,000.
Mrs Chapman said the elms were planted by the founders of Clarendon, Eliza and James Cox, and were so famous that images of them were used to promote Tasmania across Australia.
``It's going to be a progressive thing [of decline] unless we take steps now,'' she said.
``It's a big thing but that's heritage for you - ongoing maintenance and longevity.''
Among the stallholders was Lesley Crowden, of Kaydale Lodge Gardens at Nietta.
She said she was enjoying yesterday's sun, and the large oaks looked particularly appealing in the spring sunlight.