The treescape at Gliffaes is the result of many generations of planting by tree enthusiasts, it is listed as a Notable Tree Collection in The Tree Register and was visited, on more than one occasion, by the renowned dendrologist Alan Mitchell, who measured many of the trees. More than that, however, it reflects the history of this corner of Wales and the evolution of the landscape.
A walk around our Crickhowell hotel’s wonderful grounds will give you a glimpse into the history of over 600 years of habitation and the fruition of the beloved Victorian arboretum. At the time of its planting the arboretum was a statement of grandeur and the passion of a family’s love of trees and travel. It is now a stunning and flourishing testament to its designers and their vision which was sparked so many years ago.
As you are walking around our stunning Victorian arboretum, there are a few curiosities to look out for…
We are lucky enough to have a variety of Japanese Maples here a Gliffaes, but two in particular stand out. Our impressive Japanese Maple on the lawn is over 100 years old, and the one by the lodge is almost 200! And, like a fine wine or a ripe cheese, time has only improved them. Their gnarled and twisted branches and beautiful crimson leaves certainly make for an eye-catching display, as well as an excellent photo opportunity under their warped boughs.
The Handkerchief Tree is the queen of whimsy with its fluttering springtime display of (aptly named) hanky like blooms. Peeking out from behind this ethereal marvel you’ll also see our lovely Lime Tree, planted to commemorate James and Susie’s arrival at Gliffaes in 1998.
These trees are many hundreds of years old, far older than the arboretum they now sit in. They were once part of vital farming culture, serving as pollards. This means they were used by farmers for numerous purposes, form fodder for cattle, to beams for building. Though Gliffaes’ Ancient Oaks no longer serve such a practical purpose, they do remain a significant resource in the biodiversity of the arboretum.
There’s little more impressive than a Californian Redwood, and here at Gliffaes we are lucky enough to have three! Down at the end of the drive you will find one Giant Redwood and two Coastal Redwoods looming over the grounds. The Coastal Redwood grows to be the world’s tallest tree, while the Giant Redwood grows to be the world’s most voluminous. The redwoods at Gliffaes are reported to have been planted in 1885 and today the Coastal Redwoods stand at over 45m high (and they are still growing).
Unusually, you might know the Maidenhair Tree but it’s Latin name: Ginkgo. Ginkgo is often used in traditional medicine and has become somewhat of a superfood in recent years- you might have seen it in health food shops and various trendy smoothies. But Ginkgo is also interesting for another name that it bares; the fossil tree. It is known as the fossil tree because fossilised ginkgo leaves have been found dating back over 270 million years- and we thought our oak trees were old!
The final jewel in Gliffaes’ leafy crown is the splendid Kurrajong Tree in the conservatory. Gifted to the hotel by Susie’s parents when it grew too big for their greenhouse, the tree sits in a seemingly impossible pot and now grazes the roof of the conservatory.
You might be reeling at all of those wonderful trees, but that’s just a small taste of what Gliffaes’ abundant arboretum has to offer. We are also pleased to say that, as well as all of the well-established and richly historical trees that call Gliffaes home, we undertake the planting of new specimens every year in the hope that our arboretum will be a source of fascination and beauty for many years to come.
So why don’t you come and explore our remarkable arboretum at one of the best places to stay in Wales for yourself? We have a map come guide at reception which will help you discover all of the trees in which you will find the most significant ones are labelled to help you find them a little easier.
You can book direct here or, to enquire about guided walks around the arboretum, give us a call on 01874 730 371.