Notable Tree Collections in Britain, Ireland and the islands
Here you will find a compilation of gardens and arboreta where you will discover most of the publicly accessible champion trees. Further details about these special trees can be found on the Members Champion Tree Database by searching by the property name. A full list of notable trees for each site, recorded for the Tree Register, may be acquired by Members on request to the Registrar.
Some indication is given if sites are known to open to the public but as arrangements can alter from year to year these are not intended to be comprehensive. The Good Gardens Guide, the NGS's 'Yellow Book' and Hudson's Historic Houses and Gardens provide annual details. Many of the Champion Trees in open gardens will not be and are often hidden in out of the way places.
A few gardens have made a particular feature of their Champion Trees: at Wisley Gardens they are specially labelled, and Westonbirt Arboretum floodlights theirs towards Christmas.
At least 75% of Champion Trees are either in the public domain or accessible on open days; the others will be on private property and the owners permission must be gained in order to see them.
A two-star ** grading system has been used to indicate the accessible parks and gardens which will most interest people who are hoping to see a variety of large and rare trees.
Champion conifers have become increasingly concentrated in the Highlands, whose cool humid climate allows them to thrive for longest. Some prefer the east's cold dry winters, while others need the mild, wet conditions of the west coast. Many of these Champions are in private estates where the use of non-native conifers for forestry was pioneered in the 18th and 19th centuries; they should prove long-lived, though few have been revisited in recent years.
Ireland's Champion Trees are concentrated, even more than Scotland's,
within the demesnes of big houses; only in recent years have
more of these trees become accessible to the public thanks to
open days and the conversion of old mansions into hotels. Particularly
in the west, the well-timbered great estates contrast dramatically
with often treeless farmland and mountains; trees have acquired
a political dimension, being associated with or even come to
symbolise past oppression, so that often the will has been lacking
to plant or protect trees. Ireland has the lowest proportion
of semi-natural woodland of any European country; in only a few
mountains did interests such as iron-smelting ensure the preservation
of managed woodlands. Most of the country's remaining 'holy trees'
are thorn bushes, and there is evidence that Ireland's ancient
yews were destroyed comparatively recently; only a few big examples
survive in private parks. Only in parts of the south-east is
there a tradition of preserving big field and hedge trees.
A high proportion of the trees featured here were first noted during the course of the Tree Register of Ireland project in 1999-2000; many more presumably await discovery.
Most of the finest trees are in the populous south-east, and along the Marches where the shelter of the mountains combines with rich soils derived from the Old Red Sandstone to grow huge oaks, an abundance of ancient churchyard Yews, and some of Britain's tallest trees. Conifers also thrive in the lea of Snowdonia in the north. The rural west is mild but often exposed to Atlantic gales; some notable trees here probably await discovery.