Meet Heckfield Place’s Arborist, Dom Turner
May 5, 2020 by Hidden Doorways
“Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.” ~Charles Cook
As our lives feel like they are on pause lately, it is a precious time to reflect inward and savor the silver linings in our lives. In times of uncertainty, immersing in nature provides space for clarity and reconnection with ourselves. Venture to the Woodlands at Heckfield Place, a lovingly restored family Georgian home set on 438-acres in Hampshire, England. The woodlands are one of the souls of this incredibly special property and provide a window into its history, which encompasses part of its picturesque pastoral landscape.
Dom Turner, an Arborist at Heckfield Place, shares his background with us and unearths his insights on exploring the Woodlands while witnessing them evolve.
How long have you been an Arborist?
I have been an Arborist for 8 years now. I trained at Merrist Wood in Surrey and then went on to become a Utility Arborist for about 6 years working across the South of England, gaining experience in arboriculture and forestry.
What makes the woodlands at Heckfield Place so unique?
A unique and special collection of trees, with some dating back to the 1800s – they are amongst the biggest and oldest of their species in the country. As they are genetically strong trees we are using their seed to grow the next generation of Heckfield’s trees, with plans to extend the Arboretum. We use Biodynamic principles in the growing and nurturing of our trees, this helps to improve the microbial activity of the soil and increase the ecology of the estate from the soil up.
How far do the trees date back to?
Some of the first trees were planted in 1845.
Describe the trail where you take the guests on walks through the woods?
The main trail meanders through a magnificent array of once very exotic coniferous trees discovered by the first botanists traveling the world on their long voyages, alongside countless planted and self-seeded native trees. There are at least 92 species of tree on the estate, including Monterey Pine, Japanese Cedar (Sugi), Atlas Cedar, Noble Fir, Nordmann Fir, Oriental Spruce, Giant Redwood, Coastal Redwood, Beech, Oak, Horse Chestnut, Sweet Chestnut just to name a few. The trail then heads down to the two lakes before heading back up to the house. My favorite part of the trail is along the main track, through the old arboretum by the massive Monterey Pine. Next to it you have a Douglas Fir and a Purple Beech and if you look closely through the woodland you can see some special Monkey Puzzle trees. From this point if you turn to look back towards the house, it is beautifully framed by the Holford Pine and the Heather covered banks.
What are some tips you have for guests to observe when they go for walks?
Get up close and personal and touch the trees, they are all connected with one another in a complex system of roots and mycelium, sharing nutrients and information. You can really benefit from spending even an hour or two amongst them. The closer you get to the trees, the more enormous they become. Looking at a tree from a distance is great to see its height and form however, to experience their enormous mass or their delicateness, you need to be as close as possible. Enjoy the unique characteristics of the seasons; each one brings with it its own charm. The low sun, frost and snow of winter shows the visible structural framework of the trees. The bursting buds of spring bring beautiful blossoms, the luscious full shading canopies arrive in the summer, then finally the colour show of Autumn. Don’t be afraid of the rain, it rains a lot in the UK. Look closely for fungi, in the right months the woodland is full of these charming little fruiting bodies, it is easy to walk past hundreds without realizing.
Guests at Heckfield Place are able to reserve time with Dom for guided walks in the Woodlands or take a stroll on their own. If it rains during your hike, not to worry, Heckfield Place has a full closet of wellies for guests of all ages.
RG27 0LD, England
Telephone: +44 (0) 118. 932. 6868