Our Forestry Team are propagating 3,000 acorns from our unique collection of 900-year-old oak trees. Our park is home to the greatest number of ancient oak trees anywhere in Europe.
The acorns have been gathered from a wooded area of our 2,000-acre estate, known as High Park, which was originally created by Henry I as a deer park in the 12th century. Around 90% of the woodland here is made up of oak trees and it is thought that at least 60 of these oaks date back to the middle ages.
The tiny oaks are currently being raised in glasshouses and small plantations and will eventually be planted across the estate. It is hoped the saplings, all direct descendants of the original trees, will help ensure the legacy of Blenheim’s ancient oaks lives on for centuries to come. “We’re extremely fortunate that so many of these venerable trees have survived together here at Blenheim, said our Rural Manager Rachel Brodie.
“Inevitably as time passes these magnificent trees will eventually die out, however by carefully propagating and protecting saplings grown from acorns produced by the original oaks we will be able to ensure the legacy of these great survivors will live on into the future,” she added. High Park has been recognised as one of the most biodiverse habitats in the UK. The ancient woodlands support more than 100 different protected and notable species of fauna and flora; including around 50 different types of beetle and 16 butterfly and moth species.
Other wildlife recorded in the forests includes otters, water voles, ospreys, lizards, grass snakes and great crested newts. The saplings’ survival is all the more vital due to the recent spread of a disease known as Acute Oak Decline (AOD) which arrived in the country around 30 years ago. Affected trees weep black fluid from vertical fissures on their trunks and can die off within four to six years of the first sign of symptoms.
The ancient oak planting scheme is part of our new land strategy, which will see the launch a series of ambitious initiatives aimed at preserving and protecting our natural heritage and improving public access to the estate.