The original 5 hectare walled garden at Castlewellan was founded in 1740. The nineteenth century arboretum planted by the Annesley family has been extended by the Forest Service to about 40 ha. It now has so many champion trees that it really needs an entire book to itself – it has to be visited. Here are just a few…
The great redwood Sequoiadendron giganteum is grown in many parks and demesnes where it towers over lesser trees, tall, dark and definitely foreign. Native to the western USA it may live for hundreds of years and most Ulster specimens should have centuries before them.
The most gigantic of them all is in the arboretum at Castlewellan, standing beside formal steps near the entrance path.
Opposite is another giant, the Sierra Redwood, nearly as tall and measuring 22’ 2” at chest height.
Beside the path is a fantastic tree which, if not checked, would take over the entire garden. A multi-stemmed Sequoiadendron giganteum, the branches sweep out sideways, their weight bowing them down to touch the ground. There they form new trees, gradually widening their range until an entire group of trees spreads onward and outwards.
Famous – or should it be notorious – is the original Castlewellan. Gold, Cupressocyparis leylandii Castlewellan. This is the source of the thousands of cuttings planted throughout Ulster as over-sized hedges, alien in the rural landscape. They may start as little bushes but they do not stop at shrub size and are quite capable of growing into large trees, fast. The original was spotted as a seedling, nurtured and sheltered.