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Northern Branch at Yorkshire Arboretum

Author:  Tim Beckley
  03/12/2019
Last Updated:  03/12/2019

In July the Northern Branch visited the Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. A total of 34 members were given an extensive guided tour around the 120-acre (48-hectare) site by the Arboretum Director, Dr John Grimshaw, and Collections Manager Jonathan Burton.

Dr John Grimshaw showing Northern Branch members the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) which was discovered in 1994 in New South Wales, Australia. (photo: Jo Ryan)

Dr John Grimshaw showing Northern Branch members the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) which was discovered in 1994 in New South Wales, Australia. (photo: Jo Ryan)

The arboretum was founded in 1979, with the first plantings of trees carried out by George Howard and James Russell. In 1996 the Castle Howard Arboretum Trust was established by the Castle Howard Estate and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The trust holds the site on a 100-year lease from the estate. The trust also manages the woodland garden in Ray Wood at Castle Howard.

The arboretum is very popular, with visitor numbers increasing every year. It contains over 6,000 trees of more than 1,200 different species from the various temperate regions of the world. Species originating from North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia are represented in the extensive tree collection. Much of the original planting stock came from Hillier’s Nurseries. Many of the species planted at that time are now rare in cultivation. Since then this notable tree collection has expanded and developed considerably, and the majority of the species now planted come from seed collected in the wild. This wild source material is of great scientific importance as it demonstrates the wide variation and genetic diversity of wild tree populations around the world.

The arboretum’s website now contains a very comprehensive database of the entire tree collection and an interactive map enabling the locations of the trees to be identified by those wishing to find and study them. The practical management of the arboretum is aided by a large number of regular committed and knowledgeable volunteers who carry out a wide range of tasks across the site.

Strong links with Fera Science Ltd and the Animal and Plant Health Agency have been forged in recent years. Both of these organisations are based at Sand Hutton, which is close by on the outskirts of York. John and his professional team are engaged in strengthening these links. The new innovative Tree Health Centre, shortly to be built adjacent to the existing Visitor Centre, will be used to provide a wide range of training courses and other educational functions. It will be a key asset in providing exciting developments for the successful future arboretum.

On our tour of the arboretum John and Jonathan showed us numerous interesting and notable specimens in the collection. For example, we saw many interesting oak species including Quercus canariensis (Algerian oak), Quercus dentata (Daimio oak), Quercus mexicana (Mexican oak) and Quercus nigra (water oak). I would encourage any tree enthusiast to visit the Yorkshire Arboretum.


This article was taken form Issue 187 Winter 2019 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.