Been getting a bit obsessed with UK redwoods of late. Now I've started seeing them, I can't stop! There are a lot of them around NE London, Essex, Kent and beyond. How they came to be here is an interesting story, tied up with wealth, empire and the cut-throat world of 19th C horticulture (no really). This site is a really excellent resource for UK redwoods, with an ever-expanding list of locations.
Most of the mature ones are all a very similar size. Which isn't surprising given they mostly arrived in 1853, brought by William Lobb, a savvy nursery collector. Some seeds had been brought earlier, but this was the first large-scale introduction. The lure of owning some of these incredible trees was clearly not lost on the monied classes of Victorian Britain; seedlings were planted in grounds and gardens, as well as in churchyards. 19th C parish vicars obviously weren't averse to a bit of triumphalism either. I mean who could resist, when they had already made such an impression.
|Image: UC Berkely, Bancroft Library|
Amazingly, many of the surviving mature trees seem to have been left after the original buildings have long gone, which is probably a testament to their grandeur.
Here's a selection of some of the recent ones I've found. L to R: Epping; Chigwell churchyard; Dunmow fire station car park; Dunmow care home. These are all Sequoiadendron giganteum (or Giant redwood).
This magnificent grove is in Havering Country Park, just NE of London.
And when I started looking, turns out there's a whole lot of these in Hackney. Many of these have been planted in the last 10-15 years or so. Here's one in Springfield Park, with a couple of Dawn redwoods, Metasequoia glyptrostroboides, which has its own fascinating history.
So we're going to start measuring some of these UK redwoods with the TLS, to see where they sit on the mass spectrum compared to similar height / age individuals growing in California. Are UK redwoods following the same size-mass trajectory, or has the climate and often artificial location shifted them? Let's find out.