Important changes were under way in British gardening in the early- to mid-19th century. Gardens continued to develop in their complexity, scale and importance; at this time there was a growing interest in scientific horticulture. New plants from the Americas, Africa and Asia had been arriving in Britain in increasing numbers during the 18th century but scientific plant-hunting expeditions, many of which the Duke sponsored, were now increasingly popular and successful.
This was one of the first pinetums, or collections of coniferous trees, in England. It included cedar of Lebanon Cedrus libani, Douglas fir Pseudotsuga menziesii, Norfolk Island Pine Araucaria heterophylla, a giant redwood Sequoiadendron giganteum, monkey puzzle Araucaria araucana and Japanese white pine Pinus parviflora.
During the stormy winter of 2013–2014, several of Paxton's introductions were blown down and these losses have prompted a thorough review of the plans for the Pinetum. Lawrence Wright, one of our trainees, completed an up-to-date list of what trees are growing where and as much of their history as can be garnered from the archive. The next stage, starting in the autumn of 2014 will be a programme of re-stocking some of Paxton's key introductions as well as additions of other softwoods.
It is hoped that the Pinetum can be somewhat expanded to the east and north and an even wider selection of coniferous trees be added to the present selection.
In 2009, the sculpture ‘Forms that Grow in the Night’ was made by David Nash especially for this site in the south-east of Pinetum.