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Leighton (Tre’llai) is a small village near Welshpool in Montgomeryshire. It is set around the Leighton Farm Estate which is the best example of a Victorian model farm in Wales.

The Redwood Grove

In 1858 the Naylor family of Leighton Hall arranged for a plant collector to sail to America and bring back pots of Redwood seedlings as they had great plans of creating the largest Redwood Grove in Europe. The botanical name given to the young trees was Sequoia Sempervirens given in honour of the Native American Chief ‘Sequoia’  in California where the trees were originally discovered.  Later the species name of ‘Sempervirens’ was added meaning ever-living in Latin as they live for several thousands of years and it was found that if they were chopped or fell down, they would re-shoot and were also resistant to fire damage due to their thick bark.  The timber also lasts for an exceptionally long time which all goes to make the whole Redwood Grove a very special place.

In 1861 John Naylor built the beautifully ornate Poultry House on the edge of The Grove.  This Victorian aviary has nesting boxes and coops for all kinds of fowl including a swimming pool for the ducks and geese. Collecting foul was the fashion of the time favoured by Queen Victoria and John Naylor gave this Poultry House to his talented fourth daughter Georgina to keep her collection in. In the 1989 The Landmark Trust purchased the Poultry House and fully restored it, along with the adjoining cottage now used by the Landmark Trust as a holiday let.

The infamously fast growing ‘Leylandii’ trees were also  developed in the Pinetum, the name being taken from the name of Leyland which was the original name of the Naylor family.

When the Naylor Estate was sold in 1931 Mr Charles Ackers purchased approx. 1000 acres of woodland and open hillside in Leighton on the side of the Long Mountain facing Powis Castle.  Part of the woodland included the 30 acres of Redwood Grove and Pinetum.

In 1936 a Redwood tree blew down and was left to see what would happen.  Where the branches hit the ground they rooted and the other branches became young trees so in all around 10 trees still thrive from this one fallen one making it known in the village as the Mother Tree.  This tree is also depicted in the badge of Leighton  CP School.

The Grove was gifted by Mr Charles Ackers in 1958 to the Forestry Society (RFS).  The RFS own the chalet on the hill and the current structure was built in 2000 out of donations to the RFS.  The roof is of English Larch shingles that were given by Mr Acker’s daughter who in 2008 planted a Redwood to celebrate her fathers gift 50 year prior.  Also given the honour of planting a Redwood at the commemoration was Mrs Jean Bennett of Goppas, Leighton.

Today the Grove has the greatest volume of timber per acre in Britain around 24,766 hoppus foot per acre. 20cu metres in volume, 32% being bark.

To arrange a visit to the Redwood Grove please contact the Warden Mr David Williams on 01766 762 280 or contact The Royal Forestry Society direct.

3 Comments so far

  1. J R T wrote on Friday 8 June 2012 at 15:18:

    Sorry if I am being something of a pedant, but I think the poultry house was to house FOWL. Nevertheless, thank you for an interesting article.

  2. Dave McCourt wrote on Wednesday 15 May 2013 at 17:11:

    Thanks JRT. This has now been fixed.

  3. Helen Von Salzen wrote on Friday 23 June 2017 at 21:43:

    Learned of your Redwood Grove from the novel, AT THE EDGE OF THE ORCHARD, by Tracy Chevalier. I live in Pinehurst, North Carolina (USA) where our local villages and environs are our own kind of “Pinetum” but I am happy to know that California redwoods live in Wales. My son, Greg Jones, and his wife and children are proud of their Welsh surname and heritage. Take good care of those American trees!

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