Tuesday 11 April 2017

Cherry Tree Arboretum

Magnolia 'Shirazz'
On Saturday Alastair and I went to Cherry Tree Arboretum on the Shropshire/Cheshire border near Woore. This is the private collection of John and Elizabeth Ravenscroft, former proprietors of Bridgemere Garden World, and has been planted across the 50 acre site over the past twelve years or so. Despite this youth it is one of the most interesting collections of trees in the country, concentrating on good ornamentals, especially Magnolia and other flowering trees in spring, and those with good autumn colour later. The magnolias and cherries stole the show on an exceptionally warm and beautiful spring day, but there was a great deal to see and enjoy beyond these, not least the beauty of the site, with collection blending into the countryside of old hedges and field trees.

Cherry Tree Arboretum is more than just a retirement hobby, as there is a very active nursery on the site, producing large numbers of beautifully grown young trees. The primary focus is on really good magnolias, but again they produce a wide assortment of unusual trees, most of which are seldom grown by other nurseries. The aim is for the nursery to bear the costs of running the collection and hopefully to be able to do so long term. Sales are wholesale only, though we were recently able to acquire a selection for the Yorkshire Arboretum, and the arboretum isn't open to the public, so we're very grateful to the Ravenscrofts for a chance to see it.

The upper part of the site has a more gardened feel, with beds of shrubs and trees; here Magnolia 'Tina Durio' is spectacularly paired with a Spiraea.

There is an interesting collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, like everything else grown in full sun and none the worse for it. This is the old hybrid 'Sir Charles Lemon', supposedly a chance wild hybrid that arose in seed collected by Joseph Hooker in 1849.

Magnolia 'Elisa Odenwald' with the arboretum spread out beyond it.

Magnolia stellata 'Jane Platt'

The curiously named 'Golden Pond', a lovely soft creamy yellow.

The magnolias and cherries were dominant on this occasion, eclipsing all the other great trees grown there.

Prunus 'Tai-haku' - well deserves its sobriquet Great White Cherry.

The curious old cultivar 'Kobuka-zakura'

and a delightful more recent selection, 'Shirayukahime'.

Bursting buds of Sorbus insignis.

I had not previously encountered Sorbus 'Matthew Ridley', a selection from Blsgdon, Northumberland, of unknown antecedents. The new leaves are very lovely.

The corky-barked branches of Ulmus minor 'Suberosa' give a slightly sinister outline against the sky.

Magnolia 'Sybille'  has immense white flowers - a superb selection from Arboretum Wespelaar.