Friday, 26 August 2011

clinton-baker pinetum

To the Science Learning Centre, University of Hertfordshire, Bayfordbury, Hertford, Hertfordshire on Thursday for a privileged tour of this Pinetum. Our aim in going was to see semi-mature trees that we may eventually include in our site.

The Pinetum is a collection of conifers, many over 100 years old on a sloping site that is being restored by volunteers.
Of course, any pinetum must show off its Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and the Clinton-Baker has an impressive one over over 40 metres tall with a girth of nearly 6 metres.
My notebook is crammed with useful species. We particularly liked this beautiful Colorado Fir (Abeas concolor). In addition to its own qualities it would also provide foliage colour contrast set amongst other conifers.

Our site has some conifers that are fifty years old but unfortunately they have not been afforded the respect that the lovely trees in the Pinetum were given. Ours were planted too closely together and the overcrowding has led to the lower trunks being denuded of branches and foliage so that the trees struggle for light and have only a pom-pom of green at their tops. In the Pinetum, trees have been given space and their individual characters can be enjoyed. Even our old favourite Christmas Trees make an impressive specmen tree in this setting.

I was pleased that our three native conifers were present: Scots Pine (Pinus sylvatica), Yew (Taxus baccata) and Juniper (Juniperus Communis).  Improving biodiversity is a guiding strand of our philosophy and use of native plants is key to this. Although the English Yew is only listed as being the host plant for the Satin Beauty moth (Deileptenia ribeata),  Junipers are said to support seven moth species and Scots Pine a wopping 24! 
Junipers deserve our special help. They are reducing in number across the country and it will be good to bring these onto our site. Yew seed naturally and Scots Pine were planted.

Conifers have, of course, gone out of fashion. This is a pity because they bring structural qualities to landscaping and are fascinating and attractive plants given space and the right setting. And where would our goldcrests and coal tits be without them?!

We emerged with a shared vision of how our existing coniferous woodland could be developed into something quite beautiful and engaging.

Thanks to Ali for arranging and to Phil for an excellent guided tour.

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