Worcestershire’s Hidden Garden
About The Arboretum
Bodenham is situated in a protected valley, away from traffic noise and visual intrusions. Its 170 acres contain mature woodland, specimen trees and shrubs – over 3000 species in total which include important collections such as Acers, North American Oaks and Alders, and two chains of pools and lakes, integrated within a working farm.
The plantings and water, combined, cover 54 acres. And visitors can explore over 5 miles of wonderful woodland walks.
Our 15 pools have their own constant supply of water. Bridges provide access to the islands in the big pool – such as “Giants Island” which children love to explore.
About the Walks
You can enjoy over 5 miles of walks at Bodenham and we encourage the public to visit as many areas of the arboretum as possible to enjoy the many beautiful vistas. Walks will take you through a patchwork quilt of pools, plantations, dells and glades which provide habitats for flora, fauna, insect life and numerous species of resident and migrating birds.
The Grand Avenue, which is in its infancy, is planted with Pope’s Seat Provenance Beech to mature over the next century. It stretches up the hillside to the Gazebo, built to celebrate the Millennium, and the higher reaches of the Arboretum where extensive views to the Clent Hills and surrounding countryside can be enjoyed.
About the Farm
We have over 200 North Country mule ewes with their lambs in springtime, pedigree Herefordshire cows with calves at foot, and also ‘free range’ poultry around the farmyard. For most of the year we also raise young pigs to maturity.
The Seasons at Bodenham
There are few better places than Bodenham Arboretum to enjoy the changing seasons.
David Binnian began the project in 1973 when he and his wife, Jennifer, bought the land with a vision which has taken over 30 years to realise. It started as a hobby, just planting a few trees each winter, until it developed into what it is today. It’s now run as a family venture, with the third generation of the Binnian fully involved in its planning, development and day-to-day management.
When Bodenham received conditional English Heritage status in 1995 the family realised that this was a major opportunity for the Arboretum to be enjoyed by the public.
When the land / property was first purchased it comprised 127 acres of woodland and rough pasture grazed by sheep. The family had lived half a mile away for the previous sixteen years and saw it sold twice before taking the opportunity to buy it themselves, because of its potential for conversion to an arboretum, combined with a working farm.
Designing the Arboretum
The site is bowl-shaped with an opening on one side; converting it to its new purpose was relatively easy. Within this bowl there are two miniature valleys which are fed with water from a series of springs. The first task was to decide where the pools were to be created, and then the location of the plantings of additional trees. There are now some fifteen pools with a constant supply of water.
The undulating topography of the land lent itself ideally to integrating it with our farming activities and so you can see the landscape constantly changing from water and woods to pasture grazed by animals.
Creating the Arboretum
The first five years were spent constructing a series of massive earthworks, creating dams to hold back the water and laying out internal roads and drives. For the Big Pool, in front of the Visitor Centre, some 12,000 tons of earth were moved in ten days to form the dam. We also had to carry out a considerable amount of building as the old farmhouse broke its back in the 1975/6 drought and had to be demolished. A new farmhouse was built, and numerous farm buildings erected and, a few years later, planning permission was obtained for David’s son, James, to build a house adjacent to the pool named after him.
David’s second son, sadly, died of leukaemia in 1989 and, in his memory Ryland’s Grove was planted. It contains the curved Laburnum Tunnel and a large collection of maples and other interesting trees and shrubs.
A grove of Californian Redwoods was also planted in the Poplar Dingle in 1982 to celebrate David’s daughter Rosanna’s 18th birthday.