Chance to celebrate the trees in Sidmouth

Sameer with guests, reading the information from the QR code at Sidholme.

Sameer with guests, reading the information from the QR code at Sidholme. - Credit: Archant

This month Diana East, president of Sidmouth Arboretum, invites us to meet some of the trees in hotel gardens. All are easily found on their free Tree Trail leaflet.

Cedar of Lebanon at Sidholme

Cedar of Lebanon at Sidholme - Credit: Archant

As you enter the Byes by the Toll House Bridge, you soon notice the mature trees surrounding Hunters Moon Hotel.

On closer inspection, you can enjoy a well-maintained small orchard, a putting green and a magnificent, fast growing foxglove tree, which should be in flower soon.

The Fisher family have been planting trees in their grounds for many years.

Julie remembers a conifer seed planted by her father and an oak for her brother’s first birthday; so it is no surprise that Julie understands the importance of the gardens to their guests.

Foxglove flower.

Foxglove flower. - Credit: Archant

“I love the old trees, they are so grounded”, Julie explains. “You feel relaxed just sitting close to them.”

Some of the trees would be classed as veteran, and take some looking after.

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The redwood has recently had dead wood removed from its upper layers, the tree is healthy, we are told, though the branches on one side are affected by sea spray.

A massive holm oak has suffered the indignity of immense branches being removed for safety reasons.

Sidholme red rhododendron

Sidholme red rhododendron - Credit: Archant

Yet the contribution these statuesque trees make to the landscape is surely why guests return again and again.

Across the river and up the secluded Elysian Fields lane you arrive at Sidholme Hotel, sheltered by a magnificent Cedar of Lebanon, nearly 200 years old.

Many trees around this fine building date from the mid 19th century plant hunting fashion.

The Arboretum has begun labelling the trees, which include QR codes providing varied details about each tree.

When I visited, standing by a katsura tree, operations manager Sameer Velayudhan was explaining the app for the QR codes.

He doesn’t begrudge the time and cost of maintaining and improving the grounds as he knows ‘the trees create a tranquil environment, much appreciated by guests’.

Trees are a part of Sidholme heritage. There is much to do here, and an energetic volunteer group is working hard to restore the Lost Garden at Sidholme.

Down by The Esplanade, behind the Belmont Hotel, is a wooded goyle quite unlike the formal bedding often found in hotels.

In 2013, the Arboretum was offered a Wollemi pine – a rare pine rescued from extinction in its native Australia.

With the help of the head gardener, we planted the pine on the steep sides of the goyle and it has taken to its new home very well.

This area has been much improved recently and we hope to visit it during our Tree Week celebrations from Monday, May 20 to Saturday, May 25.

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