One of the nicest jobs a gardener can do is plant a tree. It is a special feeling to establish a plant that, with luck, should outlive the planter. At Gravetye we are lucky to have a wealth of trees, which are undoubtedly our most important and magnificent plants. The oldest date to the late 1800s when Robinson first established the estate and we are also lucky to have several subsequent generations of plantings. These are so important for a healthy garden, because good tree management is all about long term planning. As gardeners we have to ensure that there’s always adequate young specimens to replace mature ones when they go.
With over 30 acres of grounds it may come as a surprise that it can be difficult to find space to fit new trees in. But because of our recent work in controlling weed trees, such as cherry laurel and rhododendron ponticum, we have opened up some exciting opportunities for new plantings.
The most important thing is to get the right species in the right place, so that it will thrive for the next century or so and not be in the way fitting into the gardens landscape sensitively. Our priority for this year’s plantings is to increase our Autumn colour. Liquidambar styrachiflua is the most wonderful tree and we only have one in the garden. It is the first to colour up and this year still held its bright red leaves at Christmas. Because the one we have is not in the best of health we are planting three new ones as an insurance. Nyssa is another lovely tree that we are planting. We have one specimen of Nyssa sylvatica, the American Tupalo, which always puts on a stunning display above the croquet lawn. As well as finding a planting place for a new one of these I have also managed to obtain a young tree of the Chinese Tupalo, Nyssa sinensis. This is a rather rare tree in cultivation and I am so exited that we can fit this curios into our collection. On our deep acidic clay it should thrive, making a statement on the landscape for generations to come.
As well as exotic garden trees we are also planting new fruit trees.