West Dean Parkland

The new generation of trees

By Tom Brown, Head Gardener

We are well underway with planting our new generation of trees throughout the Parkland and Gardens. The window for planting trees is ideally from October – March, when most have no leaves and are dormant - we are on schedule but planting over such a large area in soil with a large chalk content alongside protecting them from the hundreds of hungry sheep who share the landscape with us is no mean feat.

Head Gardeners are often guilty of using the 'royal we’ when it comes to delivering such projects; I must give a special mention to Will Hamblin who has led the planting parties brilliantly and ensured that all the trees are off to a good start and well protected. Will alongside some of our volunteers Ron, Steve, Paul and Laura who is our West Dean Trainee have had a jolly old time on the windswept hills whilst taking in the breath taking views that we are privileged to work amongst.

To date 'we' have planted the four main clumps in the Parkland; consisting of sweet chestnut, hornbeam, oak and disease resistant elm with a couple of more exotic clumps which comprise of cedar, Liquidambar, pine and purple beech. The first couple of years are vital in terms of establishment so every effort will be made to prevent them from drying out in their first couple of summers. We have enriched the soil very little as we aim for these trees to establish into the native (not so appealing) soil, rather than creating an oasis of rich soil which the trees are reluctant to venture from – resulting in a locally rooted tree, vulnerable to blowing over in future years.

I hope you are excited as I am about the next few years in the garden; we will continue to plant trees and enhance our meadows around the College ensuring a sustainable planting for years to come. In time as these meadows and young trees evolve, they will be enriched with pockets of dramatic planting to make the Spring and Wild Gardens an even bigger source of inspiration and horticultural enjoyment – roll on the spring!

Hear more from Tom and follow him on Twitter @HeadGardenerTom