Within the grounds of the great house at Hillsborough is one extra tall pine, Pinus insignis. Its accompanying plaque states that it was ‘held by the infant Earl of Hillsborough when it was planted on 8th January 1871 to commemorate his birth’.
This conjures up a wonderful vision of carefully, guided chubby infant hands clutching a tall slender sapling as attendant adults held it straight and true.
Planted in a sheltered spot by the lake, nourished by rich soil, the pine would have outgrown the child in very few years. It now overtops most trees in the estate, and provides a living memorial. Within the grounds of Hillsborough Castle are many superb trees including a fine cedar of Lebanon and a range of oaks including an immense far spreading Turkey oak. There is a mossy lime walk, an avenue of 20 or more clipped yews, redwoods, a large evergreen oak and a weeping willow over the formal pond – though not large, this is unusual for Northern Ireland.
The trees have been carefully maintained and have benefited from precision tree surgery to keep their health and shape.
Sadly they are only seen by the relatively small number of people allowed admittance to the grounds, or invited to a garden party. If security eases, these trees may become more accessible.