Eastnor Tree Trail

A scenic walk amongst some of Eastnor’s finest trees.

The Eastnor Castle Arboretum (collection of specimen trees) contains one of the finest Nineteenth-century plantings of conifers from all around the world, mostly established between 1840 and 1860.

The Eastnor Tree Trail is a walking tour of 24 interesting trees around the arboretum.  Each tree on the Tree Trail is individually numbered and a map can be obtained on arrival from the Visitor Entrance.

The Tree Trail can be started at any point around the grounds and can be followed in any order.

Allow 1.5 – 2 hours to complete the whole trail.

Eastnor Tree Trail

Tree 1

Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum)
Origin: South-East USA
One of the most beautiful trees in Autumn, producing a display of colours from golden yellows, to deep wine reds, and almost violet in humid conditions. In its youth, this tree shows a more narrow pyramid shape, but spreads and widens its crown as it matures. This tree is best suited to planting where space allows it and does best in fertile, well drained soils.

 

Tree 2

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)
Origin: The Far East
The wild form of Japanese Maple, prized for its gorgeous purple-red, orange or yellow autumnal colours. A popular choice for autumn colour in gardens, or as part of an ornamental woodland in a larger space. Best in a moist but well-drained loam,sheltered from cold winds. A shallow-rooting tree.

 

Tree 3

Sequoiadendron giganteum (Wellingtonia or Giant Redwood)
Origin: California, USA
Stand in this grove and admire examples of the largest tree in the world. Found naturally in only a few groves in the Sierra Nevada mountains at 1500 – 2500m altitude and up to 3400 years old. Its common name commemorates the Duke of Wellington, victor at Waterloo. Common in Victorian avenues.

 

 

 

Tree 4

Davidia involucrata (Dove Tree)
Origin: China
Related to Dogwoods, and first described in 1869 by Father David, French missionary who first reported the giant panda. Also called the ‘Handkerchief Tree’ after the yellow-white bracts around the flower, growing to 17cm x 10cm. A broadly pyramidal tree, of medium size at maturity. It thrives best on deep fertile soil and prefers to be planted in a sheltered position.

 

 

Tree 5

Aesculus flava (Yellow Buckeye)
Origin: North America
One of the chestnut family. This species of deciduous tree is native to the Ohio Valley and Appalachian Mountains of the Eastern United States, and was introduced to the UK in the mid 1700s. It grows in mesophytic forest or floodplains, generally in acid to normal soil, reaching a height of up to 48m.

 

 

Tree 6

Cedrus libani (Cedar of Lebanon)
Origin: Lebanon, Syria and Eastern Turkey
An evergreen conifer that can reach 40m in height. Originating from a grove at 2000m altitude on the slopes of Mount Lebanon, this species is said to have provided wood for King Solomon to build his temple. It is the most mentioned tree in the bible, and commonly planted in churchyards. This is a typical mature habit: broad canopy with flat top.

 

 

 

Tree 7

Sequoia sempervirens (Coast Redwood)
Origin: California, USA
A very fine example of the tallest tree in the world: at 112m, three times taller than this one. Thought to require a moisture-laden, coastal, but sheltered, atmosphere to nourish its needles which have to pull   water such a colossal distance from its roots. Its bark can be up to 1 foot thick! Seeds only germinate after bush fires, which clear the ground and remove competition from seedlings.

 

 

 

Tree 8

Quercus x turneri Spencer Turner’ (Turner’s Oak)
Origin: Cultivated
Originally produced  artificially at Turner’s Nursery, Essex, by  Spencer Turner in the 18th Century. A cross between the Holm Oak and the Common Oak. Turner’s Oak is a semi evergreen tree with distinct smooth, dark green leaves. It slowly develops into a broad- headed, medium-sized tree with yellow/green catkins in the Spring. Clusters of narrow 2cm long acorns to follow.

 

 

 

Tree 9

Cornus kousa (‘China Girl’ or Chinese Dogwood)
Origin: East Asia
An attractive, early flowering form of Dogwood, introduced from Holland in the 1970s. In the summer, the leaves often take up a slightly curled-up appearance, which is completely normal for this species. Renowned for their beautiful early-spring flowers, followed by red strawberry-like fruits that can be seen throughout summer and into autumn.

 

 

Tree 10

Araucaria araucana (Monkey Puzzle)
Origin: Chile and Argentina
Large leathery leaves so sharp they would “puzzle a monkey” to climb. Historic over-exploitation for their excellent timber has caused this species to be threatened with extinction today. Reaching up to 30m in height, monkey puzzle has an almost cylindrical trunk with smooth bark. The base of a large tree can resemble an elephant’s foot.

 

 

Tree 11

Cedrus atlantica (Atlas Cedar)
Origin: Mountains 
This blue form, native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Tell Atlas in Algeria, is the most commonly planted  cedar, seen in small gardens despite a   mature height of up to 38m. This is a particularly well-shaped crown with very fine, slightly pendulous foliage. It is very similar in all characters to the  other varieties of Lebanon cedar; differences are hard to discern.

 

 

Tree 12

Fagus sylvatica ‘Aspleniifolia’ (Cut-Leaf Beech)
Origin: Europe
Group of three of a very pretty form of common beech with deeply cut leaves, creating a much lighter feel than the normal dense beech canopy. It arises as a ‘sport’, naturally from ordinary beech seed, and cannot be told apart until it is a seedling. Many trees ‘revert’ to ordinary beech when semi-mature.

 

 

 

Tree 13

Quercus rubra (Red Oak)
Origin: Eastern North America
A semi-mature tree. Fastest growing of eighty oak species in North America. It is one of the easiest to transplant, so is commonly planted in woods and gardens throughout the UK for its attractive shape and autumnal leaf colour. Although it isn’t as valuable to wildlife as our native oaks, it’s popular with nesting birds and pollinators.

 

Tree 14

Prumnopitys andina (Chilean Plum Yew)
Origin: Chile
A hardy, evergreen tree, often multi-stemmed and shrubby when young, with smooth grey bark and yew-like, blue-green foliage. Cream male cones are produced in sprays of five to  twenty at various times of year. Green fruit, resembling small plums, ripen to a purplish-brown colour. It lives in well drained soils in Andean valleys in Chile.

 

 

Tree 15

Pinus ponderosa (Western Yellow Pine)
Origin: Western North America
In contrast to the Monterey Pine, the Ponderosa Pine has smooth warm pink plates and a clean straight trunk with a neat crown. Ponderosa means ‘heavy’ or ‘weighty’ which well-reflects the tree’s importance as the main west-coast timber-producing pine. Native to mountainous regions of Western North America.

 

 

Tree 16

Pinus radiata (Monterey Pine)
Origin: California, USA
These are gnarled old specimens of one of the fastest-growing pines. They grow up to 44m tall in southern England, and have been introduced to many countries, including New Zealand, where it is the mainstay of the timber industry. One tree recorded annual growth of 5m in its fifth year.

 

 

Tree 17

Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea (Purple-Leaved Beech)
Origin: Europe
A copper or purple-foliaged form of the common ‘green’ beech. Even seed from a copper beech will contain 30-40% green beech! They can grow up to 32m tall and their purplish colour can make a large impact on the landscape – some think too much impact.

 

 

Tree 18

Abies nordmanniana (Nordmann Fir)
Origin: The Caucasus
One of about 60 species of silver fir found in mountainous areas throughout the northern hemisphere, this example comes from north east Turkey and the Caucasus, where it grows to 60 m. In recent years it has become the most popular variety of Christmas tree throughout Europe as cut trees hold their needles for a long time.

 

 

Tree 19

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’(Japanese Red Cedar)
Origin: Japan
Frequently planted as a garden ornament because it retains its soft, plumy foliage into maturity, which  changes from pale opal in summer to bold brick-purple in cold winters. It has soft timber and tends to topple under its own weight and root where it touches the ground, to form a grove of smaller stems.

 

 

Tree 20

Betula ermanii (Erman’s Birch)
Origin: East Asia
Like all Birch, this species is notable for its attractive bark, which is peeling and creamy in colour. The bright green, heart shaped leaves turn a bright and clear yellow before they fall. This tree retains a tidy, conical, pyramidal shape as it matures if the central leader is retained, making it a popular tree as it requires very little maintenance.

 

 

Tree 21

Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar)
Origin: Western North America
Very widely planted as a hedge, as a timber in forestry plantations, or as here, a magnificent specimen tree. Low branches on this tree have sagged to the ground, put down roots of their own (called ‘layering’) and are almost independent of the parent tree. Stand in the centre to fully appreciate its splendour.

 

 

Tree 22

Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress)
Origin: California, USA
The small Monterey Peninsula has given us this fast-growing cypress, up to 40m in height in southern Ireland, and the fastest-growing cypress in Britain. They were widely planted but not entirely hardy; many were killed by the hard winter of 1982 except in the mildest part of Southern Britain.

 

 

Tree 23

Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar)
Origin: Western USA
A large, long-lived tree that can grow to 35m in height. Easily the grandest formal columnar tree planted in northern Europe; much larger and richer in colour and texture than the Mediterranean Cypress. Planted here in a close group of three for maximum effect.

 

 

Tree 24

Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura)
Origin: China, Japan and Korea
A beautiful tree which can grow to more than 30m in its native Japan and China, however in Britain plants rarely reach more than 15m. It has a rounded conical crown and attractive heart shaped leaves in opposite pairs. Katsura is a plant which gives interest all year round, with its constantly changing colour displays. In autumn the falling leaves emit a smell similar to candyfloss.

 

 

Learn more

Eastnor’s Tree History

The earlier estate of Castleditch at Eastnor dates from about 1250 when a family called the de Clintons lived here. The greater part of this district was virgin forest consisting of oak, wych elm, beech and ash, which flourished due to the numerous springs and streams.

The areas which are now the Arboretum and the Deer Park were originally parkland containing some very large and flourishing oaks. The surrounding hills were covered in woods as they still are today.

John Cocks (later to become Viscount Eastnor and the 1st Earl Somers) inherited the estate in 1806. He engaged Sir Robert Smirke to design the Castle which was started in June 1812 and finally completed and furnished in about 1824.

The old manor of Castleditch was demolished in 1818 (i.e. before the completion of the Castle) in order to create a 9 hectare lake by erecting a 30-foot dam at the lower end of the valley. It’s foundations can still be located on one of the islands in the shallow water at the north end of the lake.

In 1810, the 1st Earl Somers engaged a Mr Deakin as Head Gardener who retained this post for 40 years. He was followed by William Coleman who was celebrated throughout the horticultural world for his success in growing conifers, as well as fruit trees. Coleman served as Head Gardener from 1st May 1860 both to Charles, 3rd Earl Somers and his eldest daughter Lady Henry Somerset until his death in 1908. Under his stewardship, the arboretum developed with the planting of many exotic species of trees. Some seeds were collected by Charles, 3rd Earl Somers, with his friend Robert Holford, who was at the same time establishing the famous 600-acre arboretum at Westonbirt in the Cotswolds.

One blue Atlas cedar (Cedus Atlantica ‘Glauca’) was raised from a seed taken from a cone by Earl Somers on Mount Atlas, at Seniet-el-Haad in about 1859. Coleman was one of the most accomplished in his profession, being a member of the Council of the Horticultural Society, and one of the greatest authorities in the country on hothouse fruits.

George Mullins succeeded Coleman. He also made a name for himself in the world of horticulture, and some of the most successful gardeners in the British Colonies and Japan as well as in England, were trained under him and Coleman.

The Lower Terrace of the Castle was built by Charles, 3rd Earl Somers, from his own designs and carried out by George Fox in the 1870’s. A stone staircase leads to the Lower Terrace on which a fountain was erected by Lady Henry Somerset after designs suggested to Fox based on a fountain at Viterbo, Italy. The terraces were laid out and planted with ornamental trees and shrubs by Coleman, who at this time employed some 21 gardeners working in the grounds, hothouses and 3 hectare of vegetable gardens. Extensive flower beds and borders planned by Arthur, 6th Baron Somers, in the 1930s, were never carried out. However, replanting of the Lower Terrace border and its new path, have been planned and organised by Gillian Archer.

Many of the trees in Eastnor Castle Arboretum are now very old and the gales of 1990 caused much damage. Since then, under the care of the Hervey Bathurst family, helped by Estate staff, outside consultants and some grant aid from English Heritage, many replacement trees and shrubs have been planted. The work is on-going.

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