Making a home for Lebanese cedars

A magnificent cedar of lebanon tree in Hatfield Forest, Essex

Seeds from rare cedar trees and collected from the mountainous forests of Lebanon have been planted at Killerton Estate, continuing the estate’s plant hunting heritage.

The Killerton estate has a rich history of trees and plants collected from all over the globe. This legacy continued by Dominic Acland, grandson of Sir Richard Acland the former owner of Killerton estate, who planted rare Lebanese cedars as part of the "Bringing Killerton Park to Life" project.

Throughout the 19th century, the Acland family worked with pioneering nurserymen who sent intrepid explorers overseas. These ‘plant hunters’ brought back the finest exotic trees to grow and plant in Killerton’s landscaped garden and parkland. The National Trust is proudly continuing this tradition whilst helping to conserve a vulnerable tree from international decline: the Lebanese cedar.

The expedition to collect the cedar seeds was the first allowed in decades and was undertaken by a team of specialists from Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh (RBGE).

Lebanese cedars are fantastically ornate trees, often seen in designed parks just like Killerton. They are however, considered to be vulnerable in the wild, under increasing pressure from grazing and deforestation they are becoming increasingly isolated.

These cedar trees have been entrusted to Killerton as part of the parkland restoration project, Bringing Killerton Park to Life. The team are working to improve the management of Killerton’s ecologically and historically important 100 hectare parkland, which is listed on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Dominic Acland, who still lives on the Killerton estate, was invited to continue his forefather’s tradition and help to plant the cedars. He attended a small ceremony to plant the trees, starting a programme of parkland tree planting that will see several native and ornamental trees planted at Killerton before spring. Where possible, the sites and trees chosen for planting will replicate those that can be traced back to original 19th century parkland designs.

Dominic Acland and Phillip Smart enjoyed planting the rare Lebanese cedar in Front Park.
Dominic Acland and Phillip Smart planting Lebanese cedar at Killerton, Devon.
Dominic Acland and Phillip Smart enjoyed planting the rare Lebanese cedar in Front Park.

Dominic  was very impressed with the recent restoration efforts:

It was a great pleasure to plant a rare tree with such an interesting history.  The work going on across the park to restore the original designed landscape is great to see, with fantastic views being opened up that have been lost for decades and careful thought being given to what this landscape will look like in another 100 years.

Not only will these efforts improve the conservation value of Killerton Park and help to save more of these special trees; it will also enable future generations to enjoy the park for years to come, just as the Acland family intended.

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