Seeds and material collected from the felled Sycamore Gap tree are starting to flourish at the National Trust’s Plant Conservation Centre.

The 'iconic' tree stood in a gap in Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland National Park for about 200 years before it was felled in an act of vandalism last autumn.

Since then, conservationists have been carefully tending to the delicate materials.

In December, staff had revealed that the material had been showing 'signs of life', but the timing of the event - during the tree's growth stage of its annual cycle - was a time not well suited for propagation.

Conservationists have utilised several methodologies to encourage the material's growth, including budding and grafting.

Several dozen seeds have now begun to sprout.

Hexham Courant: Chris Trimmer, manager of the National Trust's Plant Conservation Centre, inspects the grafted materialChris Trimmer, manager of the National Trust's Plant Conservation Centre, inspects the grafted material (Image: National Trust, James Dobson)

Andrew Jasper, director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: “These techniques, delivered with a remarkable degree of care and precision by our conservationists, are providing a legacy for this much-loved tree.

"And while there’s a way to go before we have true saplings, we’ll be keeping everything crossed that these plants continue to grow stronger and can be planted out and enjoyed by many in the future."

Plans for the saplings are still evolving, and they won't be planted out for at least 12 months.

Meanwhile, organisations are planning responses related to the tree's felling, including school engagements, tree planting initiatives in Northumberland, and artistic interpretations.

The tree's wood has been preserved and is being stored under advice from experts.

Tony Gates, chief executive officer, Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “Along with other National Park officers, I was at Sycamore Gap in the immediate hours following the felling of the tree, managing the unfolding story as it happened and responding to the media.

"Whilst all of that was taking place, a team from the National Trust arrived to collect seed and other material from the tree.

"The seed did not appear to be mature enough and the chances of success appeared slim, but the idea of a direct link from the tree, at the time of it being felled, was a powerful one.

“How great it is that experts have been able to bring us this direct connection and refreshed hope."