Keele University Arboretum
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About the Arboretum
In 2001 proposals were put forward by the University Arts Committee to set up an arboretum at Keele. Four main elements for the proposal were:
- there is historic precedent for an arboretum at Keele and the continuum has been maintained through the variety of trees planted during the lifetime of the University
- the proposal is concerned with good stewardship of the estate by preserving the best historic landscape while creating a 21st century landscape
- the proposals will facilitate initiatives for collaboration in art and science
- as an educational resource, the arboretum will have lasting value and will contribute to the University's need to address contemporary issues such as improved access, social inclusion and the environment
An Arboretum Working Group was formed to set up the arboretum at Keele. Priorities for the Group being:
- To identify exactly what trees we already have and where they are.
- To focus on a speciality that will make our collection different from others in the area.
- To compile a list of trees that we would like to plant and locations where this can be done and a mechanism for funding.
- To disseminate information to the public.
1. The Tree Survey
Work began in 2002 on a project to tag all the trees within the ring-road and all the interesting or unusual trees outside that area. Before commencing the survey, the campus was divided into compartments, these being discrete, easily identified areas of planting delineated by paths, roads or buildings. A numbered, aluminium tag was then placed on each tree. As well as identification, information is being recorded on girth, height, and health of the tree as well as its location in terms of both Ordnance Survey grid reference and compartment. This data is then stored on an Access database. Maps showing the compartments, are available in Acrobat format on the website.
2. The focus
It was decided that, given the number of Flowering Cherries (Prunus) already on campus, a collection of Flowering Cherries should form the focal point of the arboretum. Through contacts with Chris Sanders of Bridgemere Nurseries, a grant from Plant Heritage and a donation from the Alumni, 240 varieties and species of Flowering Cherry have been planted. These will be added to later. This makes Keele the holder of one of the largest such collections in Europe. In 2012 the collection was awarded National Collection status by Plant Heritage.
3. New Planting
A list of trees that we would like to see at Keele has been compiled and various methods of purchase have been investigated. The idea of planting trees as a donation, in memoriam or as a commemoration is popular and a number of trees have already been funded this way.
4. Disseminating the Information
At present, the information is being made available through this web site. As the trees are tagged, lists are being continually updated as are the maps showing the compartments that have been completed. Information, with photographs, on each of the species is being compiled. Lunchtime walks for staff and students have been arranged and in the future these should be more widely open to the public. A leaflet has been produced so that visitors can explore the grounds for themselves while a virtual nature trail can be found on the website.
In addition to the trees, much information has been collected on other flora and fauna and this has been incorporated into the arboretum web site.