Our Foresters have propagated 200 acorns from our unique collection of veteran oak trees and the two-year-old saplings are now available to purchase.
The acorns were gathered from a wooded area of the 2,000-acre parkland, known as High Park, which was originally created by Henry I as a deer park in the 12th century. Around 90% of the woodland is made up of oak trees and it is thought that at least 60 of these oaks date back to the Middle Ages.
Our UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the greatest number of ancient oak trees anywhere in Europe with some of the trees dating back to around 1000 AD.
“The acorns are collected from around the park in September while still on the trees. They’re put in cold water for 24 hours then mixed with compost in bins and turned once a week,” said Robert Burgess, one of our Foresters.
“Once their roots start to grow, they are put into seed trays and placed into the greenhouse. In March they start to grow and stay there until the end of July, then they’re taken out to harden off for winter,” he added.
Most are planted around the estate for future generations but 200 were selected to be put into recycled pots and put on sale in the Blenheim Palace East Courtyard Gift Shop for £30. For each sapling sold, Blenheim will also plant an oak on the estate.
“We’re extremely fortunate that so many of these venerable trees have survived together here at Blenheim,” said our Head Forester Nick Baimbridge
“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,” he added.
The saplings come with clear instructions on how to care for and plant them. They can reach heights of up to 35 metres, so people will need to think carefully about where they place them.
“We can’t wait for visitors to have the chance to share in this incredible legacy and take home a very special part of Blenheim’s living history that could carry on growing for a thousand years,” said Blenheim Palace’s Head of Retail Judy Bendall.
“The fact that everyone who purchases a sapling also has another one planted here on the estate means they’re also part of Blenheim’s heritage,” 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, lizards, grass snakes and great crested newts.