The Lobel elm, of which there are several species in the immediate leafy surrounding of the Pavilion Gardens Cafe, is a large, fast-growing tree that was first cloned in 1962 as a disease-resistant elm species. It was rated 4 out of 5 for Dutch Elm Disease resistance in Holland, but has suffered severe defoliation and dieback when inoculated in trials with unnaturally high concentrations of the fungus. Subsequent cultivars have proven more resistant to the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi and the later, more aggressive strain Ophiostoma novo-ulmi, and planting of the Lobel elm is no longer encouraged.
The species is very tolerant of salty sea winds and air pollution and there are many specimens in Brighton and Hove, thriving in the chalky soil of the Southeast. Its upright growing habit lends itself particularly well for planting along streets and avenues, and you will find many specimens outside the Royal Pavilion Gardens, notably on East Street (see the image above).
The upright growing habit of the Lobel elm can also be studied from the cafe forecourt if you look toward the south, where three specimens grow just as the path immediately in front of the cafe joins the path into the gardens from New Road (see our map of the trees surrounding the Pavilion Gardens Cafe). If you go close enough, you can appreciate the 10 cm long, tapering, mid-green leaves – and if you do it gently, feel the rough surface.