St Roche’s Arboretum

St Roche's Arboretum, 20 hectares, is one of the less well known delights within West Dean's designed landscape. Located at the head of the dry valley to the south of the Grade II* Listed House it is midway around the 3.6km parkland walk.

This is a glorious stroll that takes you from the richly planted ornamental grounds through the simplicity of the landscape park, the arboreal splendors of the arboretum and thence into the upper landscape park that affords panoramic views of West Dean House and grounds set within the surrounding landscape of the beautiful South Downs. Historically the arboretum has been known for its collection of large specimens of North American conifers that grow surprisingly well on the thin clay soils overlying chalk. Indeed, the late, internationally renowned, dendrologist Alan Mitchell commented on their quality by saying that "the arboretum has all the character of a North American forest" and despite the depredations of weather and age this remains true to this day.

It is also the burial place of our founder, Edward James, who had a particular passion for trees and the arboretum and who specifically asked to be buried surrounded by the woody guardians that he loved so much. We have recently opened up the grave glade and placed a discreet sign to enable visitors to more readily locate it. An experience well worth the modest effort required.

It is also the burial place of our founder, Edward James, who had a particular passion for trees and the arboretum and who specifically asked to be buried surrounded by the woody guardians that he loved so much. We have recently opened up the grave glade and placed a discreet sign to enable visitors to more readily locate it. An experience well worth the modest effort required.

And if you enjoy that experience read Conifers in the Mist a report on a Woodland Heritage visit to Murthly Castle, Perthshire Sunday 15th June 2014, may also be of interest as we have many of the trees mentioned in the text in St Roche's Arboretum as well.

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