Visit to Audley End
by Jill Manuel
The Trees Committee of the Dulwich Society arranged a visit in October to Audley End House and Garden, with a guided tour of the trees from one of the deputy head gardeners. We first saw at the entrance the astonishing 100 year old CLOUD HEDGE of Yew and Box, its irregular and undulating long length needs to be kept in hand once a year. We caught the gardeners starting on the four weeks worth of pruning and shaping, with the help of their bright blue Cherrypicker (see photo).
This well wooded estate, a Capability Brown landscape, managed by English Heritage, has a parterre garden, just being replanted for the Spring and there are many impressive Cedars and Wellingtonias, the latter always towering over everything else.
There is a long Lime Tree Walk, all the trees colouring at different stages of greens, yellows and gold. We were also shown a unique Oak species, named after the property as Quercus Audleyensis.
There are several very well grown Chestnuts in the old Pleasure Ground which have been allowed to grow to their full natural form, the branches dipping to the ground and rooting there. There have been no grazing cattle to mar them with a 'browse' line. (see photo)
We were wonderfully lucky with the one dry day of the week, and even if it was quite a long coach journey, most said that in fact they enjoyed the run through unfamiliar countryside, with the autumn brilliance of spindle, cornus and crab brightening the way.