Dyffryn's Arboretum revival

Part of our gardening team looking after the gardens.

Autumn 2016 marked the beginning of a five year project to protect the beautiful, unique and rare specimen trees we have in our Arboretum.

Why is our Arboretum important?

The tree planting history at Dyffryn dates back around 250 years to the mid eighteenth century. Some of these ornamental trees can still be seen today, particularly the Lucombe oak on the Archery lawn which we think dates back over 400 years. 

From 1906 to 1930 Reginald Cory and Thomas Mawson continued to develop, enhance and extend Dyffryn's gardens and in particular its woody plant collection. It is during this period that much of the Arboretum was established, with a collection of exotic and ornamental trees, shrubs and bamboos (running into hundreds) being carefully laid out beneath and within protective shelterbelts of over-storey trees and evergreen shrubs. 

Why does it need work?

The fortunes of the garden and in particular the Arboretum have ebbed and flowed. There were periods of neglect interpersed with various gardeners adding to Cory's original plant collection.

In 1997 the Vale of Glamorgan Council purchased Dyffryn and secured £3.25 million. Both grants have enabled much of the garden, including Mawson's original garden rooms, the walled garden and glasshouses to be restored, although to date relatively little investment has been put into the Arboretum.

Although today it looks a little ramshackle and overgrown it contains one of the best woody collections in the National Trust. The aim of the project is to protect the important trees and shrubs that are already growing there and removing those that hinder their survival. 

What's the plan?

We have secured funding for a five year project to revive the Arboretum to the glory it deserves. We will be focusing on one section of the Arboretum each year, opening up overgrown spaces, clearing areas around our important trees and propagating from those that are reaching the end of their lifetime.

In 2019 we will be embarking on the third year of our five year revival plan.

The Arboretum is home to several species of rampant weeds, these include Dwarf Bamboo, brambles and hogweed. We will be working to get these under control and to tidy up large areas around the base of the trees.

Of all the paths through the Arboretum, the dragon bowl vista has to be considered the most dramatic. Standing in the heart of the Arboretum the view carries through amongst the trees and down the Great Lawn to the bronze dragon water feature on the canal.

Over the years this vista has been lost due to trees and shrubs growing outwards and encroaching onto the path which had ceased from being a straight line. We will be realigning the path to bring back this dramatic view, when standing at either end the trees either side of the path will look like a formal planting arrangement but when walking down it will be more naturalistic with staggered planting.