Plant hunters and tree collecting

giant redwood killerton garden devon collection

Killerton was home to a successful plant nursey with global ambitions. Travelling the world, the nurserymen collected rare and exotic plants to be grown in Killerton's garden - including the giant redwood.

Veitch's plant hunters

In 1813 John Veitch handed the nursery business on to his eldest son James, who had worked with him at Killerton and the nursery from a young age. Under James Veitch the nursery expanded, and began employing plant hunters to bring back exotic plants from abroad. In 1832 he gave apprenticeships to William and Thomas Lobb, which included sending them off around the world to look for plant and tree specimens to bring home to Killerton.
The nursery took advantage of the special conditions at Killerton to plant the freshly arrived seeds and saplings. Sheltered from northerly winds by the Clump (Dolbury Hill) and with rich acidic soil and a south facing slope, the microclimate at Killerton is excellent for plants such as camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons. These were brought back by the plant collectors for a trial before going on sale through the nursery.
Killerton became one of the first arboreta in the country, with trees from all continents except Antarctica. There are over 100 species of rhododendron, the first deodar cedar grown in Britain, and fine examples of magnolia which can be seen from miles away when it's in bloom.
Some of the first giant redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum) to be planted in England arrived at Killerton. They were brought back from California in 1853 by William Lobb. The tallest specimen is 41 metres high, and over 2 metres wide. Nearby is a Japanese cedar and Persian ironwood, while Deodar Glen is named after the Deodar cedars planted there to re-create a Himalayan valley.

Take the Tree Walk

To discover more of Killerton's trees you can follow our tree walk or look out for events throughout the year. 

A vibrant orange butterfly with open wings

All creatures great and small

Discover Killerton's wildlife and the conservation work happening on the estate.