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Little Friars Arboretum- the accidental arboretum

Katsura: Cercidiphyllan japonica. Priestfield Arboreteum 2023 CdC

Little Friars Arboretum

This is from Merelene Davis one of the founder member of the Friends of Priestfield Arboretum

Little Friars Arboretum, the postal address for the Bucks Tree Club, which used to have programme of  visits to tree collections  but is now  the contact point for anyone in the county interested in trees who value the education  opportunity of nearly 200 specimens. The site which  has always been managed on ecological lines such as control of times for mowing to encourage wild flowers.  Rabbit proof fencing topped by electric fencing has protected the site for many years from damage from both rabbits and muntjac deer but the huge increase of roe deer is now a threat to the trees.  When some Bucks Tree Club members chose a convenient date for themselves to put up a tawney owl nesting box and  began work to protect the southern boundary of this sloping ground from the recent incursion of roe deer,  they were delighted to see the first flower of one of the rare trees, Embothrium coccineum which comes from the Andes.

 As Buckinghamshire is a long, thin county, most club members live a long way from Little Friars which is at Pednor Bottom near Chesham so more local people are invited to help with maintenance that includes removing any bramble thorn or volunteer trees that occurs withing the arboretum or indeed, even learning to be guides for the groups that want to visit as there is no parking for any ‘Open Days’ for the public.  With insects encouraged, it is great place for birds and indeed, on warm evenings, bat listening  too so there is much to enjoy in this oasis of a tree classroom.  For many years on an afternoon in June, we have gathered with friends and neighbours  to celebrate  Buckinghamshire’s hero, John Hamden with cream teas but now there is an official Buckinghamshire Day, 29th July, the celebrations at Little Friars will take place on the nearest Sunday that date instead.  It would be wonderful if  more people and groups come together to  begin to celebrate their lovely county, with its lovely beechwoods and Chiltern Hills.  

Merelene Davis FLS



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