Conifers at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst Place
Records show that the first pinetum (collection of conifers) in the original botanic
garden, sited close to the Orangery at Kew,
contained 36 conifers in 1789. By 1813 this
had risen to 56. One of these original plantings is the Corsican pine (Pinus
The second pinetum was planted randomly on land donated to the Gardens by Queen Victoria in 1843. Some of the conifer plantings of that time, especially Pinus species, can still be seen north-west of the Waterlily House.
In 1845 another 90 hectares (200 acres) of woods and pleasure grounds were added to the botanic garden. The intention was to form a national arboretum (collection of trees). This led to the initial planting of the present pinetum in 1870 under the direction of Sir Joseph Hooker, the second official director of Kew. Some of the younger conifer specimens that had been planted in the second arboretum were transplanted to this new site. The pinetum was laid out by genera in systematic order, with all the species in the same genus together.
As atmospheric pollution around London increased in the early twentieth
health of the conifers at Kew declined to such
an extent that, in 1920, it was decided to
establish a pinetum in the country. It was
agreed that, apart from clean air, the site
At Wakehurst Place, Kew’s sister garden in
Sussex, there is an extensive pinetum complementing
that at Kew. Kew’s collection
Trials are being undertaken at Wakehurst Place to identify new species of conifer for use as Christmas trees, and both 'home-grown' and bought-in trees can be purchased during December in shops at Kew and Wakehurst Place.