Little Friars Arboretum


Chesham is full of surprises and one of them is it has an arboretum that began by accident! In the early 1990s Christmas trees were planted on a field called Little Friars that sloped down towards Pednor Bottom. While the Christmas trees were growing the owner, Merelene Davis, planted a hedge of 33 native trees to help local groups, like scouts, to learn how to recognize them. Meanwhile, as she was also renovating and procuring new trees for a derelict arboretum elsewhere, she often not resist buying one for her family’s own garden too. As sometimes happens with impulse buys, then found that there was no suitable position in the garden and so the specimen tree was just planted in a space in the field anywhere a Christmas tree had been sold. Then one day, it was suddenly noticed that there were more than 100 different tree species which qualified Little Friars as an arboretum!

 
Seeing the Deodar from India and Pakistan and others like the Zelkova from Japan, an Amur Cork tree, a Phellodendron from between Russia and Korea, the Incense Cedar tree from high in the Sierra Mountains, Podocarps from Southern hemisphere, these trees are a representation of the arboreal world and some are under threat in their native habitats, as often the people living there, are too. Our worlds are so connected but we humans have brains and can think, so why do we not live up to our species name, ‘sapiens’ and be ‘wise’? It is not too late for our race if the United Nations acted by demanding each nation's first aim must be to feed itself and secondly, to educate its entire people so they are literate in their own language.
Berkhamstead Gardener's Group enjoying a guided tour of the trees.
Then, although we are different as people, all will recognize we have only the one, shared planet so we must cherish it so it flourishes for all living inhabitants.

Christmas trees
are still sold but no longer in December. Instead, customers visit from 1st September to the end of November to choose and tag their tree which is cut down the day they order to collect it in December. The variety of specimen trees add to the biodiversity so which helps to control pests and attract birds although it is the conifers that attracts the rare firecrest.

Guided tours of the trees of Little Friars  are offered to groups in return for a donation for the charity supported by the great naturalist, David Attenborough: 'Population Matters'.  These tours are in June and early July to fit around the ecological management of the site. Interested groups  can email mandad@hotmail.co.uk to arrange a guided tour.

The Dendrologists Introductory a tree identification course for a minimum of

5 people can be arranged.   The Bucks Tree Club has also run a conifer identification course here. The unique habitat also provides interests for visits for other natural   history societies too


Little Friars, the accidental arboretum Grid Ref SP945024