Downhill Wood is now Forest Service land, its entrance opposite the Bishop’s Gate of the National Trust Downhill property near Castlerock on the North Coast. Once in the forest, a path leads down towards a group of old conifers planted when the wood was still part of the Downhill demesne.
One is a huge sitka spruce, 21’ 2” around its mossy trunk. Leaning gently away from the path, the lower branches appear dead, shaded out by those above, but look up and the vigorous living middle branches are in fine form. The very top of the tree is not happy – having grown so far, it is above the general tree level and exposed to the North Coast winds.
The tallest spruce is slightly slimmer than the Downhill tree with a girth of 20’ 2” but its top is in good order and it is still growing. This one is beside the entrance to Tempo Manor in Co Fermanagh, one of three planted around 1846.
Tempo is sheltered, with good free draining soil which suits most tree species. Many were planted in threes – three Sitka spruce, three Sequoia, three cedars, three Douglas firs, three silver firs and three monkey puzzles.
Although private, the garden is open on a regular basis and special interest groups may contact the owner John Langham for information.