Trees form the backbone of the Botanic Garden and represent one of the best collections in the region. They play an important role enclosing the site to create a green oasis in the City and provide year-round interest - from structural tracery and textured barks in winter through ornate spring- and summer-flowering to the autumn colour that ignites the Garden.
Some of our trees are the finest specimens in UK cultivation and have acquired ‘champion’ status; others are heritage trees, noteworthy for the stories they tell. You can find many of these in the older, western part of the Garden where the collections are arranged systematically in family groupings. The development of the eastern half of the Botanic Garden from the 1950s has allowed more thematic or ornamental groupings to be created, for example the tapestry of fiery foliage of the Autumn Garden.
The establishment of a major tree collection was the vision of John Stevens Henslow, Professor of Botany at the University from 1825-61. In his presentation to the University, Henslow stated: 'The reason why a modern Botanic Garden requires so much larger space than formerly is chiefly owing to the vastly increased number of trees and shrubs that have been introduced in the last half century.’
Trees have been a principal feature ever since its establishment, and the Botanic Garden has throughout maintained an active tree-planting policy. This will safeguard our status as a major arboretum. A particular focus at the moment is trialling species from hotter climates for the future.