David Jenner Photography ©2015
The National Pinetum at Bedgebury is one of the finest collections of conifers in the world and a centre for International tree conservation.
The 320 acre Pinetum contains over 12,000 trees and shrubs (including 1,800 different species) from across five continents, many of them are rare and endangered and historically important specimens. It contains some of the oldest and largest examples of conifers in Britain.
As well as playing an important scientific role in international conservation, the National Pinetum is a beautiful and tranquil place to walk, picnic and enjoy nature away from the stresses of everyday life.
The Importance of Bedgebury Pinetum
Since its inception in 1925, the aim of Bedgebury Pinetum has been to grow as many species of conifers as the climatic conditions will allow. As such it has established collections of threatened species that act as living gene-banks and as a genetic resource for future conservation programmes. Indeed many of the older plantings were collected from forests that no longer exist and may represent lost genotypes.
Bedgebury is at the forefront of horticulture and currently holds several national collections of conifer cultivars and genera.
The scale and quality of Bedgebury Pinetum's conifer collection make it an ideal 'safe site' for the International Conifer Conservation Programme (ICCP) run by the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. The ICCP aims to promote the conservation of conifers through in-situ conservation work, ex-situ conservation work, research and education and Bedgebury Pinetum plays a vital role in conserving the genetic diversity of conifers, particularly those from temperate rainforests. Through its work, Bedgebury Pinetum supports, protects and is increasing the population of UK Red Data Book species: those species of flora, fauna and fungi identified as in need of particular conservation effort.
Bedgebury is a key partner in Fauna & Flora International’s Global Trees Campaign, and makes a major contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation co-ordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). It does this by collecting endangered seeds from all over the world to bring back to Bedgebury for propagation.
More than 2000 tree and shrub seedlings are grown at Bedgebury every year, some of which are planted on site. Surplus seedlings and plants are distributed by Bedgebury to other botanic gardens and safe sites across the UK and Europe, and it provides seed to the Millennium Seed Bank.
A Pinetum for all seasons
Each season at Bedgebury offers different experiences and pleasures:
• Winter - at a time when other gardens are sleeping, the giant evergreen trees of the Pinetum come into their own at this time of year, making it a perfect place to walk and enjoy the fading winter sunshine. A light dusting of snow or a sharp frost transforms the Pinetum into a magical winter wonderland.
• Spring - brings new life to the Pinetum with the bright colours of azaleas, magnolias, and rhododendrons, as well as carpets of bluebells among the trees. Cherry trees are also looking beautiful at this time of year, with our Cherry Tree Avenue being a particular highlight throughout April. A close up look will also reveal the spectacular and brightly coloured new emerging cones.
• Summer - is the perfect time to relax in the shade of the the many giant tree specimens that cast wonderful shadows across the pinetum, creating a cool oasis in the dappled warm sunshine; perfect for picnics. Venture further into the Pinetum and you will find the many wild flower species, ferns and grasses, butterflies, insects and birdlife that make Bedgebury their home. In early evening you may also see some of our six resident bat species swooping across the lakes.
• Autumn - heralds a feast of colours with the fiery leaves and brilliant berries in sharp contrast to the background of rich green conifers. Particularly striking in autumn are the golden larch, which turn a deep golden colour. The dawn redwood and swamp cypress are also favourites, and can be found creating stunning reflections in Marshal’s lake. The sweet gums (or Liquidambar) produce a range of purples reds and yellows, often on the same tree, and on a warm sunny afternoon you may smell the candyfloss or caramel delights of the Katsura tree.
The Pinetum is brought to life by regular Seasonal Trails which highlight particular points of interest and hidden gems amongst the collection.
The National Pinetum, managed by the Forestry Commission, was established as the National Conifer Collection in 1925.
Map of the Pinetum
Please keep all dogs on leads and under control in the National Pinetum, as well as around the Visitor Centre and car park. Sorry, no cycles or horses in the Pinetum at any time.
Bedgebury celebrates tree conservation success!
Bedgebury have succeeded in germinating seeds they helped to collect from one of the world’s most critically endangered tree species.
It is the first time in nearly 30 years that anyone has succeeded in germinating seeds of the Japanese birch (Betula chichibuensis), a tree so rare that only 21 trees were recorded growing in the wild in 1993.
Full details can be found by reading the Forestry Commission press release here.
Bedgebury leads epic seed-collecting expedition along the Pacific Northwest coast of America
In September 2015, a team led by Bedgebury embarked on a three week collaborative seed collecting expedition along the whole of the Pacific Northwest (USA). Their goal was to gather wild seed from some of the tallest, largest and rarest trees on the planet. The expedtioin was also supported by the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum and whilst collecting, they made a record of their journey. Find out more about the expedition here.
The National Pinetum at Bedgebury and the National Arboretum at Westonbirt together form the National Arboreta, managed by the Forestry Commission.