Derby's Heritage Part 23 - The Arboretum (Section A)
w/e 27 November 2011
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

Our walk through Derby reached the Arboretum at the end of the previous part and before we begin our own wander through the trees it would be very remiss of me not to point you in the direction of Christopher Harris' excellent website which is devoted entirely to Derby Arboretum. The Arboretum came about at the instigation of Joseph Strutt in 1840 and I cannot hope to cover the history of it in as much depth as Christopher has already done and nor would I want too in a series such as this but I will include some salient facts and seek out many of the significant trees from the Tree Trail leaflet which is available from the Tourist Information Centre at Derby Market Place.

Path to Fountain

We'll begin with our back to Grove Lodge with this view along a straight path to the fountain. A catalogue of trees in the Arboretum was produced recently which splits it into five sections (A, B, C, D & E) with each section containing trees from the same family group. In this view Section E is to the left of the path with Section A to the right. In this 23rd part of the Heritage Walk, we will concentrate mainly on Section A.
Plane and Elm

The first tree on the corner of the path in Section A is a large example of a London Plane (above left). Despite its size, none of the planes in the Arboretum are older than 130 years as they were planted to replace trees that had died between 1840 when the original plantings were done and 1860. The cause of the trees' demise was disease, age or air pollution but the London plane trees are resistant to air pollution and those planted in the Arboretum thrived to such an extent that they threatened the original concept of famous designer John Claudius Loudon. Loudon had been recruited by local mill owner and philanthropist Joseph Strutt who gave the site to the people of Derby and in the process created not only England's but the world's first public park. Another tree (above right) next to the entrance and opposite the plane does not feature on the Tree Trail but is worthy of note as it is an example of a "top graft", a practice common in the 1800s but less frequently used nowadays. The catalogue identifies it as a Camperdown Elm and shows that it was introduced to the Arboretum about 1850.

Red Maple LeavesRed MapleThe next tree on the Trail also backs on to Grove Street and although from a distance (left) it looked to have shed all of its leaves, closer inspection (right) showed that several of those still remaining displayed a distinctive red tinge that helped (along with a label fixed to the trunk of course) identify it as a Red Maple. It is not a common tree in this part of the UK being more usually associated with its native environment in America where it is responsible for many of New England's "fall colours".
Cucumber Tree

As we progress along the path parallel to Grove Street a tree on the left growing at an angle belongs to the magnolia family and because of its gherkin like fruits goes by the common name of the Cucumber Tree. It is another tree of USA origin but was introduced to the UK in 1736.
Serpentine Path

For an arboretum, Derby's is relatively small in size covering a site of only some eleven acres but Loudon used several features designed to make it appear to look bigger and concentrate the eye within the confines of the site. One such feature was the use of serpentine paths around much of the perimeter so that the walker would experience an ever changing perspective.

Another feature was the extensive use of mounds which served a dual purpose. The first was to shield walkers on adjacent paths from seeing each other thereby creating a feeling of quiet isolation. This is not quite as true today as a certain amount of settlement and an increase in the average height of the population over 170 years means that other people in the Arboretum can just be seen over the tops of the mounds. The second purpose was to encourage a view of the whole tree from the root bole up through the trunk to the canopy. The tree in the foreground of the image above is a Wild Cherry.
Caucasian Lime

The final tree in Section A on the Tree Trail is a lime introduced from the Caucasus about 1860 and is the tall upright one in the centre of this image. In fact the specimens in Derby's Arboretum are among the tallest in the UK. Naturally enough it goes by the common name of the Caucasian Lime and has become popular as a street tree in our cities as aphids do not feed on its leaves. The Tree Trail leaflet continues however, "it has a weeping growth habit which makes it unsuitable for street situations as it requires regular pruning."
Harriet Street Entrance

At each of the entrances to the Arboretum there is a panel (above left) that includes a map and a "You Are Here" marker and as we near the end of Section A the panel at the Harriet Street entrance (top right) also proclaims "In the original Arboretum, no tree or shrub variety appeared more than once. At the time it was one of Britain's most complete open-air collections of trees and shrubs open to the public." A similar panel at Grove Lodge reads "Entrance to the Arboretum was originally sixpence (thrupence for children), except for Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, when it was free. Universal free entry was introduced in 1882." Adjacent to the Harriet Street entrance is a "shelter" (bottom right) although this one is a reproduction.
Shelter & Fountain

The shelter faces down a straight path that separates Section A from Section B and leads to the fountain already seen from Grove Lodge. Beyond the path continues between Sections D and E to an identical shelter but this is an original. Both shelters were another of Loudon's features to focus the eye within the confines of the Arboretum as neither has nor never had a roof, seats or windows so they are both "shelters" in name only.
 Back to Part 22
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 24

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