Great Trees of Dorchester

‘Meet the Giants’. A guide to some of the ‘Great Trees of Dorchester’ – great in terms of their size or unusual character. You are invited to nominate your own favourite Giant, and to let us know of any large trees in town that we might have missed.

We are creating a map to illustrate the locations of these Great Trees so we can show people where they can go in Dorchester if they want the company of big trees.

A beautiful and elegant specimen of Silver Birch in a private garden but very visible from the footpath alongside the Millstream. Trees situated like this can add so much to our urban landscapes, and so we should be grateful for the foresight of those that planted trees several generations ago in the hope that they would give pleasure to others in the future.

This is one of several magnificent willows in the Riverside Nature Reserve by the Millstream in Dorchester. Some willows are notoriously difficult to identify, and several species regularly hybridise. This is probably a Crack Willow or a White Willow, or a hybrid between the two.

Either way it is a wonderful, free-growing specimen close to the boardwalk that goes through this small wetland reserve less than 500 metres from the High Street.

This very large specimen of the Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima, has been nominated by Giles as one of the Great Trees of Dorchester. It is one of the last trees in town to come into leaf and has a notorious reputation for throwing out suckers.

It can be seen in a private garden by the entrance to Salisbury Field from the junction of South Walks Road and Icen Road.

This is the famous Copper Beech of Beech Court, just off South Walks Road. Judging by its grandeur, this beautiful Beech predates the houses on either side so may well have been planted in the garden of a large Victorian villa that has now been demolished. If you visit this tree, it’s well worth standing close to the trunk and looking upwards into the canopy. The sheer size of some of the branches is simply awesome.

This Common Yew, although not tall, certainly warrants its place as one of the ‘Great Trees of Dorchester’ on account of its girth and age. It can be found by the boundary wall to the east and is clearly visible from Kings Road. It is recorded as a ‘Veteran’ tree in the Ancient Tree Inventory and as having a girth of 4.2 metres.

This Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is in the corner of the wildlife garden (the churchyard) behind All Saints’ Church on High East Street in Dorchester. Also known as a Wellingtonia, it’s probably one of the tallest trees in town and can be seen from quite a distance. There is another Giant Sequoia by Frome Whitfield House and a very large specimen in the grounds of Kingston Maurward College.

Although probably not the largest Copper Beech in Dorchester, this one was planted in Borough Gardens to mark the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 12th May 1937. Bearing in mind the tree was probably six or seven years old when planted by the Mayor, Miss W Marsden, it has grown well over the last 90 years.

This fabulous Copper Beech in Borough Gardens has been nominated as a ‘Giant’ by Simon who has met many trees in his travels around the UK. There are several very large Copper Beech in the Gardens and they may well be part of the original planting scheme when the Gardens were first laid out.

This Sycamore is reported to be the tallest in Dorchester and has a girth of at least three hugs. It stands by the Millstream at the eastern end of Frome Terrace. Do you know a taller Sycamore in town?

Individually these two Horse Chestnuts might not be enormous, but standing together at the Junction at the western end of South Street, they are very impressive. Were they planted or have they grown from two discarded conkers…?

We think this is one of the largest Norway Maples in Dorchester. It can be found at the junction between High Street West and Albert Road, by the Top O’ Town roundabout

Dorchester has several large Sycamores. This one is known as the ‘Beacon Sycamore’ as it stands next to the Town Beacon on Salisbury Field.

There are several large Copper Beech in Dorchester, and one wonders it they were all planted around the same time. This one stands on the edge of the car park off Trinity Street.

This tree is so big it is hard to photograph well enough for you to appreciate it’s true size. It is a Field Maple, normally a small to medium sized tree associated with hedgerows and along the edges of woods. Here, on the line of the old Roman Walls that surround Dorchester on three sides, it has grown to an enormous size, home to Treecreepers and much, much more. It is hard to know how old it might be as you don’t often find Field Maple this large. Perhaps we should give it a name – any suggestions?

Horse Chestnuts seem to thrive in Dorchester. They have been planted in good numbers along the Walks, specially West and South Walks, and along Bowling Alley Walk. Mature Horse Chestnuts are also a prominent feature on Salisbury Field. This fine specimen can be seen at Frome Terrace and is particularly spectacular when seen from the path along the Millstream.

14 thoughts on “Great Trees of Dorchester

  • May 14, 2020 at 1:04 pm
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    One of my favourite trees is the one at the top corner of the Borough Gardens behind the little Garden of Remembrance. It is an incredible shape and has so many very strong branches low down, which encourage climbers!

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  • May 16, 2020 at 6:31 am
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    There’s a church on High East Street that’s no longer used and in the graveyard behind it there is a huge pine tree. It’s a lovely place to sit on a sunny afternoon.

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    • May 16, 2020 at 8:13 am
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      Ah yes, Hilary, thank you. I know it well as I am a volunteer gardener for the wildlife garden behind All Saints Church on High East Street. The tree is a Giant Sequoia (Seguoiadendron giganteum) also known as Wellingtonia. I will take a photograph of it so we can add it to our ‘Meet the Giants’ page.

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  • May 16, 2020 at 10:57 am
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    Do the trees have to be in the town? there are some huge pines in the hamlet of Woodsford!

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    • May 16, 2020 at 4:59 pm
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      It is probably best if we start in Dorchester for now Chris and then work outwards if there is a wider interest. I think I know the large Pines you mention – are they on the corner of the road to Moreton?

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  • May 17, 2020 at 7:58 am
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    Not on the corner – just in the hamlet – some at the entrance to the farm, and one in the corner of the field looking at the castle as you enter the hamlet from the west.

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    • May 17, 2020 at 9:14 am
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      Thanks Chris. I think I need to cycle out to Woodsford soon to have a better look at these Pine trees.

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    • May 19, 2020 at 11:25 am
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      Many thanks Ron, this is a beautiful essay.”So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours.” I have subscribed to Brainpickings for a couple of years now – it is always refreshing and uplifting to read. I will find somewhere on our ‘Inspiration’ pages to post your link.

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  • May 19, 2020 at 10:54 am
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    A former tree officer named our sycamore as the largest in Dorchester some time ago and it has since grown as its roots are in the Mill Stream so never short of water. You can see it from the Mill Stream path on the opposite bank at the eastern end of Frome Terrace

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    • May 19, 2020 at 11:34 am
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      Thank you Joy. I am lucky enough to see your enormous Sycamore daily as it is about 100 metres from my front door and I think the Tree Officer might be right. I am hoping to put together online Tree Trails along the Millstream footpath, and along Frome Terrace, one day soon for the Tree Festival.

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  • May 19, 2021 at 8:58 am
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    I know some consider them weeds, but there is a magnificent “Tree of Heaven” in the grounds of 28 South Walks Road at the entrance to Salisbury Fields. It’s an exotic invader just before your reach the glade of chestnuts but well worth a visit to celebrate the diversity of fine trees in Dorchester.

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    • May 19, 2021 at 4:49 pm
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      Many thanks for the nomination Giles, the Tree of Heaven has been duly added as one of the Great Trees of Dorchester.

      Reply

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