Visit to Hill Farm Oast Arboretum, Yalding

Hooray!  Kent Men of the Trees has actually managed a visit in this year of plague!  On Monday  6th July 2020 eleven members met on Yalding Hill to view the six acre arboretum created by Mr Paul Reddy over the last twenty-five years at Hill Farm Oast.  He has done this more or less single handed, though he does admit to using some large machinery and the help of a friend or two.  He started with derelict orchard and has dug a lake, several ponds and an extensive underground watering system, the land being clay and PH neutral on a south-facing site. 

Our host has an infectious enthusiasm, though he speaks in tongues, knowing only the latin names of the many rare trees he has managed to establish. Some of them are tender and difficult to grow in this latitude. Solanum album, Taxodium mucronatum from Mexico, Juglans cathayensis, Staphylea (bladder nut), Aesculus wangii, Nyssa sinensis, and a splendid specimen of Koelreuteria paniculata (golden rain tree) in full flower.  We saw collections of rare oaks, unusual chestnuts, large magnolias, even some eucalyptus.  After an hour and a half of fascinating wandering we returned through a stumpery which is beginning to colonise with ferns and epimediums, and emerged into a desert garden planted with dicksonias and agave.  I have lived about two miles away for over 50 years and I had no idea of the marvels hiding behind the high hedges of Yalding Hill. 

Thanks to Elizabeth Cairns who set up the visit, and to Edward Raikes who administered it.  It was a welcome treat for all the escapees from lockdown. 

Jennifer Raikes

Golden Rain Tree

Corylus with red nuts

Bladder nut