Apley Castle Woods is a substantial example of a 19th Century landscaped parkland. Records mention woodland on this site as far back as 1300, although the present woods have largely been created over the last 200 years as part of the ornamental gardens to the Georgian manor house built in 1792.
Apley was acknowledged as a ‘high quality site’ in the Shropshire Tree Survey of 1979. Of particular note are trees in the Yew Tree Walk. There are individual yew tree specimens which are thought to be 300 years old or more. There are several very large Wild cherries (Prunus avium), beech (Fagus sylvatica) and a fine Red oak (Quercus rubra). The latter is mentioned in Andrew Morton’s book ‘Trees of Shropshire’ as one of the outstanding specimens in the county.
Since 2006, Telford & Wrekin Council together with support from Friends of Apley Woods and Hadley & Leegomery Parish Council have been endeavouring to increase the variety of species in Apley. Over 70 new varieties have been planted to give the place a real arboretum feel and to add seasonal interest, food for wildlife and to provide the next generation of mature trees.
Much of this new planting has been introduced specimen trees to improve the already fine collection in the more formal areas. A variety of Oaks, flowering Crab, Birch, Thorns & Cherries have been planted with volunteer groups as well as more exotic choices such the Foxglove tree (Paulownia tormentosa), Handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata), Antarctic beech (Nothofagus antartica) and Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica).
In addition to trees from Japan, China, America, Iran and Europe, Native trees that are far less common than they once were have been planted. Two such examples are the Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana) and the Wild Service Tree (Sorbus torminalis).
Some of the best specimen trees can be found on our tree trail that includes great examples of the Western Red cedar (Thuja plicata), Wellingtonia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), Red oak (Quercus rubra) and Beech (Fagus sylvatica). There are ten species in total in our trail, why not visit and see if you can spot them all.
Fact box – Fact box – Once common in hedgerows and ancient woodlands, the Wild Service Tree is now relatively rare. Its fruits, called “chequers” give the tree its other name and prior to the use of hops, these fruits were used for flavouring beer. Its timber was highly valued for furniture making, cabinet work and for pistol and gun stocks.