Sidmouth Arboretum tree database project

Public asked to nominate best trees for Sidmouth Arboretum scheme

SETTING up a database of the most interesting, rare or old trees in the Sid Valley is the first step towards making Sidmouth the world’s first civic arboretum.

The idea of an arboretum came from Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce and has captured the imagination of many organisations and individuals.

Chairman Richard Eley has received an outstanding number of messages of support and believes: “The entire community can get involved … through the planting and appreciation of trees.”

The town pays great heed to its historic architecture and buildings but perhaps overlooks some of the plants and landscape that surrounds them.

With the help of Sidmouth Herald readers, we want to build up the list of trees (shown below) to include individual trees or groups of trees that people believe are worthy of note.

They may be growing in public areas, or in private gardens. Diana East, a member of Sid Vale Association, is helping compile the database.

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She said: “We would like to hear about notable trees and shrubs in private gardens, and recognise that this information may not be for public use.”

Diana lives in Sidmouth now, after retiring as editor of The Westonbirt Magazine from Westonbirt The National Arboretum.

In an article for that magazine she explains what an arboretum is.

“The term ‘arboretum’ was first used by landscape designer, John Claudius Loudon in 1833. His definition of an Arboretum, was ‘A place where an extensive variety of woody plants are cultivated for scientific, educational, and ornamental purposes’.”

Diana says of the Sidmouth project: “Our civic arboretum is that ‘place’ and we will promote existing specimens and encourage new plantings, which for the most part will be for ornamental purposes.

“The unique microclimate of the Sid Valley may provide scientific interest by assessing the effects of climate change.

“The project will then turn its attention to areas which would benefit from a small amount of tree planting, such as car parks.

“Finally to encourage and educate our visitors, we plan to produce walking and cycling leaflets to add another dimension to the town’s attractions.”

The first thing Diana needs is for people to contact her to let her know about your favourite trees and where they grow.

Call (05603) 278 602 or email

The following trees are already on the Sidmouth Arboretum database:

Blue Atlas Cedar at Muttersmoor; Monkey puzzle, Sid Road; Copper birch/ironwood, Holmesley Nursing Home; Willow, Footpath 155, Skinners Farm; Beech, Sidmouth Golf Course (upper part); hedge bank at Manstone Lane to Sidford Road; Japanese maple, Bickwell Valley; hedgerows at Dark Lane of Bulverton Road; Lombardy poplar, Gilchrist Meadow; Holly, Packhorse Close; Ash, Core Hill Road; Cork oak, High Street; coppice at Harcombe Hill; Sugar maple, Brownlands Close; Indian bean tree, Beatlands; Magnolia, Sid Road/Brownlands; Scots pine, Beatlands; Hawthorn, Thorn; Oak, Soldiers Hill Field; Deodar cedar, Convent Road; Balsam Poplar, The Byes below wooden bridge; Yews at Sidmouth Parish Church; Red horse chestnut, Emmanuel Church, Manstone Lane; Copper beech, Arcot Park; Momi fir, Balfour Manor; Maple, Kennaway House; Horse chestnut, junction Alexandria/Winslade; Hornbeam, Stowford; Sweet chestnut, Powys, All Saints Road and The Byes; Dogwood, Blackmore Gardens, Tulip tree, The Knowle, Mulberry, Cotmaton; Monterey Pine, Woodlands Hotel; Turkey Oak, Boughmore Road; Holm oaks, The Byes; Red oak, Roxborough car park; Redwood, Redwood Road; Limes, Bickwell Valley; Atlas Cedar, The Ford footbridge; Sweet and Horse chestnuts, Kennaway House; Hawthorn, Ham pathway; Ginkgo biloba, Alexandria Road; Golden Copse, Margaret’s Meadow;

Hedgerow oaks, Station Road; Whitebeam, The Knapp; Olive, Blackmore Gardens; Beech, Salcombe Lodge, Sid Road and Weeping birch, Masonic Hall, High Street.

* The Herald will feature a Tree of the Week from those suggested by readers, so please send a photograph with details of the tree, what species it is, how old (if known) and where it grows in the Sid Valley, to


Most people think of hawthorns only as hedgerow plants with thorns. Diana East has a small collection of hawthorn trees and some have yellow or black haws and some have edible berries and leaves.

Diana writes: “The legend of the thorn at Salcombe Regis exerts its influence on the community and a fine new tree has been planted recently.

“There is an attractive Crataegus prunifolia – plum leaf hawthorn - by the footpath on the Ham.

“Someone chose it specially and looked after it, so that now it looks good as its autumn colours begin to show.”

Our picture shows a hawthorn with its autumn haws.