Box Woods of Wormsley

21st February 2020

BBC’s Country File has been on-site filming for an episode that features our woodland and in particular our unique Box wood. Did you know that here at Wormsley we have more than 25% of the total Box tree population in the country?

Box isn’t just the hedging that you see in manicured gardens, or those amazing topiary animals we all marvel at in formal gardens - when left to its own devices it develops naturally to grow into large, lush green bushes and like rhododendrons its structural nature means you can actually walk into the middle of the bush!

Box is strong, dense and is the hardest of our native woods, but is extremely slow growing. An 8” plant will take 10 years to reach a meter in height and width. This slow growth gives it a density that makes it a perfect wood to make things from. Country File brought along Jack Darach to explain the properties of Box wood and show examples of its uses, in particular some of the musical instruments he has created from this versatile wood. On the same front, another friend of Wormsley and instrument maker, Tim Cranmore, has recently made the most beautiful treble recorder from our Box and gave the Estate Office the opportunity to see his masterpiece firsthand.

We are proud that some of our original Box woods across the Estate are between 120 and 140 years old and as Box can live up to 500 years there’s plenty more growth to come. But, like everything in nature they have a deadly predator, in the form of the Box Tree Caterpillar. This innocent looking beast can devastate mature plants overnight and could wipe out hundreds of years of history in one sitting so naturally we are doing everything in our powers to protect our precious acres of woods.

For the last 10 years we have also been working with Huw Crompton and The Chiltern Society on a sustainability plan to ensure the ongoing protection and development of the woods at Wormsley for future generations to enjoy. This has seen the planting of over 10 hectares of Box, Juniper and other indigenous plants and this program is set to continue over the coming years.

These new plants will of course take longer than our lifetimes to reach the size and density where they could be used to make instruments but as with everything we do at Wormsley, it’s all about leaving a legacy for future generations.

The program was aired on Sunday 15th December and is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000cfpr/countryfile-buckinghamshire