Flora & fauna

‘In a world of increasing ecological fragility, there has been no more important moment to focus on the health of nature and what it means to us as human beings, and how we relate to it.’ – Lord Edward Manners.


‘There is nothing wrong with having a friend as a tree’ - Bob Ross

Within the Medieval Park are a large number of tree varieties ranging from Alder, Poplar, and Willow bordering the Wye, to the Hawthorn which fills nooks and crannies and follows the boundaries, to the main open grown parkland trees. The tree landscape is fairly informal as befits the age of the Hall but the tree planting of clumps and triples and singles has a very attractive layout.

The most predominant tree in the parkland is the European Ash. Large, graceful and wonderful for wildlife, no other tree can match it. The Woodland Trust states that ‘over 1000 native species use or rely on Ash in some way, at least 45 of which depend entirely on it for their survival’.

The European Ash is currently threatened by Ash Dieback Disease caused by a non-native fungus. Large open grown Ash trees like those at Haddon seem to show greater tolerance to the disease but nevertheless the trees will be closely monitored.

A large proportion of the parkland trees are ancient or veteran. By veteran we mean not just old trees, but trees that have been through the wars of storm damage, disease etc. These trees provide extra habitats for small animals, birds and insects and the dead wood supports the growth of fungi and provides a breeding ground for many insects. A special example of a veteran tree at Haddon is a huge Sweet Chestnut which reclines gracefully on to the slope in the north ancient parkland.

Not all the trees at Haddon are ancient as there has been planting over the centuries. A significant part of this has taken place in the last century and there are many young trees visible in the parkland protected by wooden tree guards. In this year alone, 138 native broadleaf parkland trees will be planted within the park, with another 137 being planted in 2022. Many of these will be Oak, as the population was significantly reduced at Haddon during the lead mining days, when many of this species were felled to provide pit props. Luckily, some very old Oak do remain, one of which shows that it has had its lower branches removed early in its growth which would have enabled the tree to yield good lengths of straight wood, ideal for floorboards and panelling, when it was felled.

The Field Maple is another Haddon parkland tree of ecological importance. It supports a population of aphids, ladybirds, hoverflies and various birds. It shows beautiful autumn colour and as a bonus the herbalist Culpeper claimed the leaves and bark will strengthen the liver!

The Parkland and woodlands support many more varieties of trees than those just described including Black Poplar, Hornbeam, Sycamore, Beech, Horse Chestnut, Yew, Holly and Cherry.

The character of the Ancient Parkland strikes a balance between native woodland pasture and traditional parkland, and is the result of successive historic changes. These include the 19th Century interest in planting ornamental trees within parkland, so that it is possible at Haddon to see single Copper Beech, a few Red Oak and some Norway Maple and Walnut.

Ruth Ross, Duty Warden and Medieval Park Guide