The Plots - from trialling trees to saving them
The conifer conservation area is is a very important but lesser known part of the botanical collection at Bedgebury.
In 1929 an area to the east of the main Pinetum was planted as a research area for species trials. The trial plots, each a quarter of an acre in size, tested a range of coniferous and broadleaved trees for their potential as forestry species.
Many of these plots still exist and we have expanded the trial area’s role into a living gene bank for planting large numbers of specimens of rare and endangered conifers. This project is known as the Bedgebury Conifer Conservation Project/Programme and is an extremely important part of the scientific and conservation work the modern Pinetum undertakes.
Bedgebury has always been an important and unique conifer collection. It originally covered 26 hectares (64 acres), with the additional Forest Plots taking this total to 56 hectares (138 acres). In the last few years the Pinetum has become increasingly recognised for its international efforts in conserving threatened trees. The site now extends to 130 hectares (321 acres) reflecting its status as the world's most complete collection of temperate conifers.
The site is now solely managed by the Forestry Commission, in close cooperation with the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum - without whom we could not achieve much of our international conservation work.
An American perspective
Writing in Conifer Quarterly (the journal of the American Conifer Society) after a recent visit to the National Pinetum, American conifer expert Tom Cox said;
"I knew this was a vast collection … but I was not mentally prepared to take in the immensity and age of the plantings. The Bedgebury website lays claim to 'the world's finest collection of conifers' and, having visited many gardens throughout the world, I would agree. It was a thrill to see so many rare specimens in one place."