Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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Trees in Bristol

Trees Bristol ( is a body that raises money for tree planting throughoput Bristol.

In the planting season 2010-2011 it has planted 1208 trees, in 2012-3 1251 trees. You may have seen some of the 32 planted in the Clifton and Cabot Neighbourhood Partnership, and the 35 planted on the Cumberland Basin, and you may have driven past the very striking new planting on the A4 at Totterdown.

The species breakdown is interesting. The largest number were 228 trees of the prunus- ie cherries and plums, small trees, that however are often the most appropriate. 160 were oaks, 85 Hornbeam, 74 maples, 63 limes. 36 were beech and 31 Whitebeams. I am glad that only 33 were Planes, as, though these grow large and grow fast, they produce neither nectar nor fruit.

Trees Bristol raised £39,000 last year (2010), and have a variety of donation methods, so do look at the trees forum website.

The Woodland Trust is hoping to plant six million trees nation wide as part of the 2012 Jubilee celebrations- details are on their website at

Brandon Hill Tree Trail

The Brandon Hill Tree Trail was funded by Neighbourhood Partnership in May 2015.

Trees Falling

Arlington Villas tree
Arlington Villas May 2014
Victoria Square
Victoria Square June 2013
Princess Victoria St
Princess Victoria Street June 2013
Dead or dangerous trees: Except in an emergency, you must give the Council (by post to Development Services, by email to, or online through the Planning Portal) at least five days written notice before you carry out works on a dead or dangerous protected tree. If you take down or do other works to a tree in an emergency, you should notify them in writing as soon as possible after the works become necessary, You could be prosecuted if we think you have carried out unauthorised works.

If you remove a tree because it is dead or dangerous you may be asked to plant another tree that is:

Transformation of Victoria Square.

Victoria Square Victoria Square
4 Dec 2013: The council is planning to spend £50,000 on a once in a generation improvement scheme to open up the square, increase the grass area, deal with the ‘Victoria Lake’, plant new trees, and possibly create self-sustaining native plant edges. Detailed consultation will take place January.

A Clifton Tree Trail

4 Dec 2013: Plans are afoot to create a Clifton Tree Trail, which will give details of the oldest, rarest and most notable trees in the area. The scheme has the support of the Tree Forum, and it is hoped it will link with other trails including the one just opened at Kings Weston, to form part of a Bristol City tree trail to operate as part of the Green Capital year in 2015.

Observatory Hill trees

Clifton Camp Hill Fort
Path leading upto hill fort

Victoria Square Trees

On Sept 10th 2008 the Council tree department will be carrying out a pruning exercise in Victoria Square. It involves removing deadwood from many older trees, removing Ivy, which is desperately needed, felling two dead trees, felling the old Horse Chestnut at the arch end which has Tree Canker, and removing some branches that are dangeously overhanging the roadway. I have been sent their detailed plans, and inspected all the trees, and made one or two suggestions, including removal of the Holm oak stump, and removing the laurel stumps that have re-sprouted after their trimming two years ago.
There has been a grave lack of tree maintenance over the past thirty years, and several of the great Victoria Square trees are increasingly misshapen as a result. The Tree of Heaven in the SW corner is the finest in Bristol, though it is suckering, and has a strong lean over the road. The Hornbeam on the SW edge is unique as it combines tissue from the Cutleaf Hornbeam with that of normal Hornbeam. There is a Honey Locust on the central pathway which is totally ivy-clad- and which is showing the same die back that is sadly affecting Honey Locusts throughout the city. I suspect when they remove the Ivy there will be nothing worth preserving left.
Anyone with queries or concerns please contact me at, or 0117 973 4828
Richard Bland Tree Warden


9 June 09: On Bristol City website, type TreeBristol into search for information on a scheme which has had huge success this year, providing £19,000, and ensuring the planting of 742 new trees around the city.

Trees in the city exhibition

At the Architecture Centre near the Arnolfini there will be an exhibition from June 15-26th about trees in the city.
Cities Need Trees, compiled by 4D (Landscape Designers) , is on display downstairs at the Architecture Centre until 28 June (every day except Monday).
Michele Lavelle of 4D says: "It only takes a few minutes to read so if you are in the centre of Bristol with a moment to spare in the next two weeks then please do call in and have a look. It would be great if you could put a note in the comments book".
The Architecture Centre is on Narrow Quay, between Pero's Bridge and Arnolfini

Tree Work on the Downs

Richard Bland 13 Dec 2005
Gordon Milward took Richard round the proposed improvements to the view of the Suspension Bridge that he is carrying out in the near future, in preparation for the Brunel festivities next year. Very large numbers are expected to be attracted to the main event in April 2006, and young self-sown trees in several places now obscure the former clear views of the bridge, and these will be removed.
In particular a line of ash trees close to the Look Out site on Sion Hill, which obscure the view of the bridge from it, will be removed. This will effectively add to the open space immediately to the right of and below the Look Out. In addition a self-sown bay tree in this area will be removed. By the Observatory an Ash and a Turkey oak which obscure the view from that site will be removed, and an ash growing alongside the rock slide. For good measure a Sycamore growing in the boundary wall near the Toilets will be removed- it is breaking the wall up, and two ash trees, one growing horizontally, that are close to the Children’s playground, will be removed.

Annual Report

Achievements and AGM reports from 2004

Tree Felling

2 mature trees are to be felled on Christchurch Green because of disease. A notice will be put up by the Council explaining why they are being felled. Any replacements will wait until the Downs Ranger has completed his report on planting on the Downs.
Permission has been given for lorries to drive up to the Observatory carrying building materials. Branches of trees which might be hit will be cut back first
The Downs Ranger has advised that the yew hedge of the Mansion House is to be pruned drastically, partly because of complaints that it is encroaching over the pavement. Roy Vaughan will bring the large patches of ivy to the attention of the Downs Ranger

CHIS Guide to Trees in Clifton

Richard Bland
Clifton has a very remarkable inheritance of trees in public parks, communal gardens, and in private gardens. They are considered below in order of their interest, either because of age or rarity, but also by where they occur.

Victoria Square

This very handsome square was opened in 1837 and named after the new Queen. It was planted up at the time, but only the Cedar of Lebanon on lawn and the Cut-leaf Beech flanking the central path, and the Tree of Heaven in the south corner, all with girths of over 4m, probably date from that time. Two most unusual trees on the SE side are the Italian Maple, which flowers in the early Spring, and the Hornbeam, which contains some branches of the Cut-Leaf Hornbeam, and others of the normal form. The aged leaning Black Mulberry may also date well back, as these trees are notorious for collapsing with age.
mulbery fruit
There is a Tulip Tree on the western corner and an old Laburnum on the SW side. Recently there has been a planting by CHIS, of five different unusual oak species on the central pathway, but they have yet to become established. Note the Cork Oak (so called because its bark looks like cork) on the pathway. There is also a Tree of Happiness on the SW side (there was another by the Mulberry but it fell on several cars causing much unhappiness). There are also several bay trees.
Across the road in the hotel gardens, notice the Bean tree and the Strawberry tree.

St Andrew's Churchyard

Apart from the pleached Lime avenue, some of whose individual trees are clearly old, but which is regularly replanted with young trees as older ones decay, there is a huge north American Red Oak on the west side with a girth of almost 3 metres, implying a planting date of around 1900. Also on the west side, there is a magnificent double Cherry, though its days are probably numbered, a fine tall Monterey Cypress, and a magnificent Witch Hazel. On the east side, there is also a great rarity from North Korea: Neolitza sericea, which is in the far corner of the old churchyard by the Bishop's Housee.

Vyvyan Terrace Gardens

This has four original trees, two very large Horse Chestnuts, both around four metres in girth, a Cedar of Lebanon, and a magnificent Weeping Silver Lime (Tilia petiolaris) on the north east side.


The Zoo has a very fine collection of rare trees, many of them very recent. It had some very fine trees dating back to its foundation in 1837, but most of these have had to be felled in the last few years. Its Magnolia Kobus is very beautiful in early spring, and visible from outside, and it has an exceptionally fine Turkish Hazel, Dove Tree and a Crategus laciniata, a thorn tree that may be original.

Clifton College

The lime trees around the school do not look that old, but Lime trees grow slowly, and there is a photograph of them as saplings in 1865. They have twice been pollarded, once in about 1920 and again in 1950, which has helped to slow their growth down. On the east side of the close, the school has a very early Dawn Redwood, planted in 1950, and now taller than the limes planted nearly a century earlier. And on College Road, opposite Guthrie Road, there is a Sophora japonoica or Scholar's Tree, planted in 1980 by the headmaster's wife, and doing exceptionally well.

The Downs

There are a number of magnificent and rare trees on the Downs. The triangle outside the Lord Mayor's Mansion House has a very fine Tree of Heaven, a very rare natural variant of the native Oak called the Clustered Oak, as well as a Red Oak and a Pin Oak. There is also a fine Hornbeam that appears as part of the Beech avenue along the Promenade and was probably planted in error. Nearby, on the side of Bridge Valley Road, is a wonderful double-trunked Sycamore, probably self-sown, with a total girth of over six metres, which probably dates back to before 1850. The Mansion House itself has a superb Wellingtonia, probably dating from the original seeds sent to James Veitch and Sons' nurseries in 1853. Further up the Promenade is a very fine Monkey Puzzle tree, which almost certainly dates from the same period, when seeds first arrived. The Downs Grand Avenue contains a Black Walnut, and there are still three Huntingdon Elms dating from 1880. Some of the stunted multi-stemmed Hawthorns on the Downs may date back to the Civil War.

Avon Gorge

Two types of tree (Bristol and Wilmott's Whitebeam) grow naturally here and nowhere else in the world. The blossom is white. They are to be found on the Seawalls Road on the right hand side just as the road loops round to the left back to the edge of the cliffs after the peregrine watch.

Brandon Hill

When the tower was built in 1897 a series of unusual trees was planted. They include the Kentucky Coffee tree, a Black Birch, Caucasian Wing Nut, and Zelkova serrata. There is also a very early Turkey Oak planted in 1867, and a magnificent native Oak with an exceptional spread in the Parks Department enclosure that is certainly 200 years old, and may well be more.

Beech trees

There is a number of magnificent Beech trees which are up to 200 years old. The largest is that in the forecourt of the Merchant Venturers' Hall on the Promenade, and one of similar size stands in Clifton High School. There are others in private gardens in Canynge Road, St Paul's Road etc.

Horse Chestnut

Much the finest is in the grounds of Clifton Hill House, near York Road, and belongs to the University. Its position is extraordinary, as from York Road you view it from half way up. However, it stands above a vertical wall some 20 feet high, created to allow access to new buildings in the 1950s. Its size implies that it is at least 250 years old There is a fine one on Clifton Green, probably the oldest tree on the green, going back to 1850.

Holm Oak

This was a popular tree in Victorian gardens as it is evergreen, and the oldest are in the grounds of Clifton Hill House and Cornwallis House, both dating back to before 1800. They have since spread into the wild, and are a serious threat to the natural wildlife of the Avon Gorge.

Sweet Chestnut

sweet chestnut
This magnificent sweet chestnut is Bristol's Oldest tree and is 400 years old. It is in the grounds of the Chesterfield Hospital 3 Clifton Hill.

Turkey Oak

There is a magnificent specimen where Pembroke Road joins Clifton Park that may be 200 years old.

Luccombe Oak

The Luccombe Oak is a fertile cross between a Turkey Oak and a Holm Oak. It is semi-evergreen, and was widely planted in the 1860s. There is a fine one at the foot of the Mall Gardens on the West Mall side that appears to be from this date.
tree sculpture
There is a fascinating tree sculpture hewn out of a dead chestnut.

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