Radford Arboretum a Short Guide

January 5, 2010 | By | Reply More

Situated in what was the North Park of Radford House, Plymstock, home to the Harris family from Tudor times and later to their Bulleel successors, is one of Plymouth’s most beautiful parks where a fine Arboretum has been established. Due to the collapse of  the Harris Bank the house was sold in 1917 and sadly demolished in 1938. In 1956 much of the North Park and its environs was transferred by the new owners to Plympton Rural District Council, which controlled Plymstock at the time.

In 1974 the Radford Heritage Group, an autonomous group of the Plymstock & District Civic Society, after a hard battle with the City Council to prevent the listed Radford Lodge from being demolished and replaced by modem development, obtained permission from the Council to plant an Arboretum from the Lodge to the Lake. Fund raising began in earnest and the following year a dedicated group of voluntary workers was enlisted and 150 trees were planted. Some of the donors planted their own trees aided by workers from the City’s  Parks Department. Many of those trees died in the drought of 1976.

Much of the fne work was ruined by  winds and vandals and sometimes theft. In spite of the magnificent generosity of the public, groups and individuals, and grants from the Council, finances were always a problem. This was greatly eased in 1991 by the formation of a Group of Friends, unable to offer to work, but happy to subscribe £1 per annum to help expenses. New Friends are always welcome. Voluntary workers, now very few, are still a vital part.

Radford Park Winter1

Frosty Radford Park

In 1994/1996 the Heritage Group produced with the aid of Plymstock School, brochures recording the trees of Radford. In 1999, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary, the Friends produced a small book (now out of print) entitled 25 Years of Radford Arboretum which includes, as well as maps, names of trees, and donors, a history of the House and family.

The Arboretum, although experiencing a mainly mild climate, suffers from very strong winds and gales which damage and even kill some varieties.

The Arboretum was awarded ‘ Winner’ of the  Royal Horticultural Society ‘Britain in Bloom’ Community Award for 2008 and 2009.


Radford Arboretum Planting Areas

In its heyday, Radford House was one of the finest in England, frequented by such worthies as Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and, during the Civil War, members of the Grenville family.

In the Year 2000 more than 20 trees were planted to Commemorate the Millennium. There are now over a 170 varieties of trees and shrubs in the Arboretum.

View, download and print the full Radford Arboretum Guide here

For further details visit www.radford.freeservers.com or www.plymouthtrees.org.uk

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Category: History, Radford Heritage Group, Resources

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