The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now

 …..Or 400 years ago as I found when I lucky enough to spend my weekend at Gwydir Castle in LLanwrst on the edge of Snowdonia. The present castle dates from around 1490, when the original castle was rebuilt following the Wars of The Roses. After decades of careful restoration work by its owners Peter and Judy Welford the castle reverberates with the spirit of the Tudors.

Gwydir Castle

Ancient yew topiary

The castle gardens are Grade 1 listed. As the peacocks basked in the sunny knot garden I found it impossible not to imagine all those who have admired the grounds over hundreds of years. From the Tudor ladies collecting herbs to make soap and herbal remedies to the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George and Queen Mary who stayed at the castle in 1899 as guests of the family. The garden’s ancient trees are pivotal to this sense of history and continuity with14 yew trees dating from pre 1700.

However the garden highlight for me was that 12 Cedars of Lebanon were planted in 1625 to commemorate the marriage of Charles I (as he was to become) to Queen Henrietta Maria of France. King Charles is said to have visited the castle in 1645 as a guest of the baronet. So for everyone that planted a tree for the Jubilee (or is yet to do so) maybe this will lead to a royal visit?

Ancient Lebanon cedar

We all know that Charles I came to a rather sticky end, however four of the cedar trees planted in his honour remain. These incredible majestic trees (so big I couldn’t get the whole tree into a photograph!) are a living reminder of the timelessness of trees and the contributions that tree planting can make for generations to come.

Victoria Bankes Price, Planning Adviser (and intrepid castle explorer (weekends))


About Kaye Brennan

Trying vegan, staying warm. Occasional bursts of words.
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Woodland creation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now

  1. Pingback: Wood Yew believe it? 10 Amazing Tree-related Facts | Coffee Grounds to Ground

  2. Thanks Victoria. It is rather special isn’t it?

  3. Your blog about planting trees reminds me of a great MacNeice poem – Fanfare for the Makers (esp stanzas 7,8 & 9):

    Fanfare For The Makers by Louis MacNeice

    A cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what?
    To the small fire that never leaves the sky.
    To the great fire that boils the daily pot.

    To all the things we are not remembered by,
    Which we remember and bless. To all the things
    That will not notice when we die,

    Yet lend the passing moment words and wings.


    So fanfare for the Makers: who compose
    A book of words or deeds who runs may write
    As many who do run, as a family grows

    At times like sunflowers turning towards the light.
    As sometimes in the blackout and the raids
    One joke composed an island in the night.

    As sometimes one man’s kindness pervades
    A room or house or village, as sometimes
    Merely to tighten screws or sharpen blades

    Can catch a meaning, as to hear the chimes
    At midnight means to share them, as one man
    In old age plants an avenue of limes

    And before they bloom can smell them, before they span
    The road can walk beneath the perfected arch,
    The merest greenprint when the lives began

    Of those who walk there with him, as in default
    Of coffee men grind acorns, as in despite
    Of all assaults conscripts counter assault,

    As mothers sit up late night after night
    Moulding a life, as miners day by day
    Descend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kite

    In an empty nonchalent sky, as anglers play
    Their fish, as workers work and can take pride
    In spending sweat before they draw their pay.

    As horsemen fashion horses while they ride,
    As climbers climb a peak because it is there,
    As life can be confirmed even in suicide:

    To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair.

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