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News from the Nursery

Find out more about our Tree Nursery, from old traditions to what's happening now


Autumn 2023


Now the winter months are drawing in we will soon be opening our gates to customers once again.
We welcome everyone from wholesale customers, landowners, farmers and landscapers who wish to purchase 1000s of trees for a large scheme, to the private individual who is looking for a single tree for their garden.
The nursery will open in November but if you would like to pre-order your plants now then our team is on hand to help.
 Please call 01653 648646 or email for all enquiries.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Nursery once more.

Summer at the Nursery


As a bare rooted tree nursery you’d be forgiven for thinking that summer was a less busy season for us, since our lifting and selling season runs from November to March. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Now is the time when we are working hard every day to maintain our seed and transplant beds to help our trees grow and flourish.
Weeding the many beds is a particularly vital task and one that is done entirely by hand. As a traditional nursery, we still use many of the techniques used by those who worked here many years ago and so our hard-working team hand pick and hoe the beds one by one. This allows the trees to grow without competition for space, light and nutrients.
Irrigating is also a key job at this time of year. The summer heat can make the soil very dry so making sure the trees get enough water is extremely important.
These tasks will keep us busy right through the summer.
Something that we do enjoy during these warmer months are the wildlife encounters. Working to birdsong makes our jobs that little bit easier. Buzzards often call and circle overhead, ladybirds search for aphids among the beds and butterflies enjoy sunning themselves on the sandy soil. Working outside certainly has its perks.
Make sure you look out for our new 2023/24 nursery catalogue which we’ll be uploading to the Nursery webpage in late summer.
In the meantime, we wish you a lovely long summer and if you have any questions or enquiries, please do get in touch.

The Arrival of Spring


It’s April and the arrival of milder weather and the greening up of our young trees marks the end of the nursery season.
This year’s been busier than ever with hundreds of orders lifted, labelled and delivered to customers.
It’s fantastic to think of all those new trees, hedges and shrubs being planted all over North Yorkshire and further afield.
Thank you to all our customers, large and small, for your continued support and custom.
We look forward to welcoming you back next winter!

Seed Harvesting on the Estate

September - October
Harvest time is once again upon us and here in the Forestry department that means we have been gathering together our buckets, baskets and long handled tree pruners and heading off to hunt along the hedgerows. Our quarry is the millions of seeds that hide among the branches which we will hand pick, prepare and plant, supplying the Castle Howard Tree & Shrub Nursery with true wild, Estate-grown trees. These early autumn days are the perfect time to go picking and we’ll be setting our sights on acorns, crab apples, sweet chestnuts, sloes, hazels, Beech masts and the feathery winged keys of Sycamore. Choosing the day to go harvesting is very important; if you go too soon there may not be enough to harvest, but leave it too late or after a particularly blustery night and it will be a race against the birds and the mice to get to the seeds first.
One of the more enjoyable jobs in the Forestry department, spending a day collecting seeds on a quiet patch of the Estate overlooking the fields and the House is fantastic, with just the birds and an odd hare for company. However, it’s physical work, using the pole to lower the higher branches (which are often the most laden) and scrabbling under hedges to collect those already fallen to the floor.  By the end of a few good hours, our buckets are full of fare and we head back to the Tree Nursery with our loads rattling with berries and nuts.
Once the seeds have been collected, some can be hand sown in the Castle Howard nursery straight away. Others, such as the sloes from the prickly Blackthorn, need to be cleaned first to remove the surrounding pulp before they can be planted. After harvesting a huge number, only a small percentage is likely to be fertile and germinate successfully but by the end of the process we are left with beautiful fresh seedlings.
Seed harvesting has a long history across the British countryside but Castle Howard are one of the few estates that still hand-pick wild stock. It’s fantastic to be out in a secret corner of the Estate making our way along the old hedgerows just like the Estate staff who have gone before us would have done in their day. It’s truly great to think that we are keeping this tradition going, not just to keep the past alive and all the memories of those who worked here, but also to know that we are part of the future and that the seeds we collect will be part of the local landscape for years after we are gone.  
If you are thinking about planting some hedging or you’re looking for a tree to add to your garden, contact our Tree Nursery and we can provide you with wild British-grown stock, from our hedge to yours.
Read about our Tree Nursery and download the Tree Nursery catalogue...