Bedgebury, National Pinetum
A Gentle British Stroll

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest.

Bedgebury is a very large rambling park that houses the largest collection of temperate Conifers in the world. If you like trees and long leisurely walks then this site is worth a visit. They also have extensive trails for bicycle riding and an adventure area for children of all ages. We found this location because it is not far from Great Dixter which is closed on Mondays, the day we chose to visit.

giant redwood,

What’s Exciting? The excitement here comes from seeing some of the huge Conifers that you may have read about, actually growing and approaching their mature size. I’ve always been a bit of a tree afficionado and found the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of these leviathans very satisfying. Giants such as the Redwoods, Sequioadendron giganteum , (picture right,) that are native to California were thriving here and in another 100 or so years may reach their mature size. Other were impressive for the huge spread of their branches rather than for their overall height.

Lawson Cypress What’s Interesting? There were a great many Lawson Cypress, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana another California native,both the natural species and a wide selection of cultivars that have been developed for use as landscape trees. It was fascinating to see such diversity in size and shape all within one species of conifer. Short and fat, round and tall and most any shape you wanted in a soft foliaged evergreen for landscaping.

Although there was some excellent signage explaining the natural history of some of the more significant species, I was disappointed in the lack of identification of many of the trees that I found interesting. I’m sure that a great many visitors just enjoy the sight of these specimens but I wished I could have gotten to know them a bit better. A search among the branches would sometimes produce a label but all to often there was none that I could find.

Castanea, chestnut

What’s to Learn? Even though Bedgebury has this large collection of conifers, one of the more interesting aspects was the large plantings of Sweet Chestnut, Castanea dentata now almost extinct in N. America because of the Chestnut blight but thriving here. They were grown more for their wood than for the edible nuts. The ability to regrow quickly from the stumps of old trees has produced a forest of new shoots that are cut back every few years to produce wood for fuel and other uses. It made a very interesting section of this park and they used the wood to heat their buildings in the winter so that they were self sustaining.

After a couple of days of sensory overload from intensively planted gardens, Bedgebury provided a respite with a pleasant and gentle stroll through its trees and ponds.

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