Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Swindon's lost arboretum

This post is a repository for notes about the mysterious group of exotic and interesting trees that grow in a bit of neglected parkland behind Cheney Manor (the whole area is open to the public and there are some widely-used paths that go through it).


I've now (April 2016) discovered the old sign, which tells us that this is the Moredon Tree Collection.

Things have changed a lot since this information board was erected. The path as shown is no longer one of the main paths.

The number 1 is now pinned not to an Oriental Hawthorn (which seems to have disappeared) but to a Japanese Crab next to the information board (which is at the start of the path illustrated).

Likewise, the number 2 appears to be pinned to a different tree in a different place than shown on the map: not a Walnut but a tall wild cherry, I think. (However, the walnut trees are still there, at least three.)

Moosewood (Acer pensylvanicum) beside rocketing Dalecarlica Birch (Betula Pendula 'Dalecarlica')

Trees 3 and 4, the Moosewood and the 'Dalecarlica' Birch are both still there. The Moosewood is healthy and impressive (leaf image at foot of post). The 'Dalecarlica' birch is dead straight and very tall and slender; the interesting foliage is too high up to see!

Leaves of Moosewood (Acer pensylvanicum) in August

5. Southern Beech. Apparently gone.

6. Japanese Cherry. There's a tree that matches the description ("polished, red-brown, mahogany like bark"). But the name is wrong. This is Tibetan Cherry (Prunus serrula) not Japanese Cherry (Prunus serrulata).

Prunus serrula. Swindon, 27 August 2020.

Leaves of Prunus serrula. Swindon, 27 August 2020.

Leaves of Prunus serrula. Swindon, 27 August 2020.

7. Turkish Hazel. Apparently gone.

Cut-leaved Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa 'Heterophylla')

Tree 8, the Cut-leaved Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa 'Heterophylla') is still clinging on. It's not very big and is being hard-pressed by the trees around it.

Leaves of  Cut-leaved Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa 'Heterophylla') overhead

Crown of Cut-leaved Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa 'Heterophylla'), with one solitary fruit

Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina) 

Tree 9, the Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina) is doing very well. An arresting sight. The leaves (see image at foot of post) are grey-downy and small compared to our native ash.

Tree 10, Common Oak (Quercus robur). Present and correct.

Tree 11, the Amur Maple (Acer ginnala), is doing well (leaf image at foot of post).

Tree 12 (Yew), still present.

 Tree 13 (Yoshino Cherry), still present. (Click to see separate post about this tree.)

Tree 14 (Golden-leaved Lime), still present.

Tree 15 (Gingko or Maidenhair Tree), still present and well-formed.

16. Silver Birch. Apparently gone.

17. Broad-leaved Lime. Apparently gone.

18. Holm Oak. Present.

Trees 19, 21 and 20

19. Norwegian Maple. Present.

20. Weeping Silver Lime. Present.

21. Silver Lime. Present.

22. Silver Maple. Present and rather striking, because the bark is still smooth and not cracked like most mature specimens.

23. Red Alder (Alnus rubra). Yes, there's a couple. Native to N. America, near the west coast. They are quite tall trees. The foliage looks like our Grey Alder but you can just make out the revolute leaf margins, diagnostic for this species.

Alnus rubra

Alnus rubra

24. Poplar. Present.

25. London Plane. Present.

Tree 26. Weeping Ash. Still present.

27. Oak-leaved hornbeam. Present. A strange-looking thing, but more attractive than it sounds. The inner leaves mostly look like normal hornbeam leaves. The distal leaves are mostly much smaller, and are lobed like oak leaves. But there are some sprays of normal leaves, too.

28. Incense Cedar. Apparently gone.

But besides these, there are an even larger number of interesting and exotic trees that are not mentioned on the noticeboard at all. Some must have been in existence even back then, others may have been later plantings.

A young, healthy-looking snake-bark maple, not sure what kind.

A spindly Winter Cherry, presumably var 'Autumnalis'. Noticed it in fading blossom yesterday (November 24).

Another mysterious cherry, not far from the Tibetan Cherry (6). Some pictures and speculation about it in this post: .

A number of interesting birches, including one with dramatically peeling red-brown bark and extremely small leaves. (River Birch from eastern N. America, Betula nigra . . .)

I haven't yet identified the handsome tree beside the footpath. It's a small elegant tree with smooth bark and leaves a little like dogwood but smaller. The leaves are still green in autumn, and noticeably transparent so showing vein-patterns against the light. Could possibly be Alder Buckthorn, Frangula alnus. (Yes, it is.)

Wild Service-tree. A couple of quite tall trees, lurking within the  gloomy fringe of woodland (sycamores, alders etc) that borders the road from Cheney Manor Ind. Est. Noticeable from the road when they're in blossom (in June I think). At other times you should be able to pick out the unmistakable shape of the leaves.

As you walk away from the Moredon Tree Collection in the direction of the fishing lake (Plaums Pit), you'll pass these two, right next to each other, on your left:

Cappadocian Maple (leaf images at foot of post). The simplistic leaf-shape is always intriguing. In October the Cappadocian Maple becomes a golden-yellow dome while the Silver Maple beside it is still green.

Silver Maple (leaf images at foot of post). Deservedly popular species and widely grown.

They've been hacked about and neither of them is in any way a specimen tree, but the foliage grows low down and is easy to examine.

On the other side of the path, and in several other places, there's quite a lot of Grey Alder (Alnus incana).

Incidentally, Cheney Manor Industrial Estate itself has a few interesting things for the tree-enthusiast to look at. E.g. the row of almond-trees, producing quite a lot of fruit,  that grow outside a derelict office with smashed windows.

Leaves of Moosewood (Acer pensylvanicum) and Amur Maple (Acer ginnala)

Leaves (Upperside) of Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) and Cappadocian Maple (Acer cappadocicum)

Leaves (Underside) of Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum) and Cappadocian Maple (Acer cappadocicum)

Leaf of Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina

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