Bradford Botany Group

The Hollies

14th September 2013



Despite the weather forecast, we came together on a pleasant autumn day, even spotting a tiny patch of blue sky. Dean, our leader, told us about the Hollies, which were originally quarries. George Brown built the house in 1861 and his son Harold developed the rhododendron gardens. After Harold died in action in 1918, his body never recovered, his father gave the Hollies and gardens to Leeds City Council in his memory. Gordon Cooper, a fine plantsman, developed the estate, adding to the specimen trees.

Nymans Eucryphia

Moving into the garden, several ostrich ferns set off a specimen spindle sporting pink fruits. A contorted willow did not look happy but we learnt that this tree is only short lived and maybe near its nadir. The tall Corsican pines, swaying a little as their tops caught the wind, sheltered us well. A putative lime turned out to be a hazel when catkins were found - Turkish hazel. Beside it a Persian ironwood was beginning to show its rich purple and red autumn colour. Alternate-leaved butterfly-bush confused us grown as a standard, then we looked down to see little blue stars of Pratia pedunculata in the lawn.

Soft Shield Fern bulbils

There were plenty of colourful flowers in the beds and shrubs - large purple heads of Hydrangea aspera and one of my favourite trees, grown in my mother’s garden, Nyman’s eucryphia with large 4 petalled white blooms. A tree showing autumn colour was tested by Andrew. A leaf carefully broken apart formed latex strands which held the pieces together, showing it was Kousa dogwood.

Cucumber Tree

Black beech, not grown in the north of England according to Mitchell* was growing healthily here, with bunches of red stamens like an elm at the leaf bases. A soft shield fern distracted us, showing bulbils with tiny leaves growing along the rachis. A large magnolia, Steve told us, is called the cucumber tree, so named because of the red blushed fruit standing up for us 2cm and which can grow to 7cm.

Kashmir Rowan


We could not satisfactorily name a drooping spruce but were confident with 3 needled Jeffrey’s pine when three of us caused laughter standing close to the tree to sniff the bark with its tangerine smell. Western red cedar was identified by leaflets which look as if ironed flat and by the pineapple perfume.


Through dark woodland, brightened by yellow collections of sulphur tuft fungi, we reached the Arboretum containing Geoffrey Appleyard’s trees. His sorbus are well established, heavy with berries of all colours - white, yellow, orange and white blushed pink. Bruce blazed a trail to photograph the sharply cut leaves of Hungarian oak while others inspected a tansy-leaved hawthorn. Mitchell helped us to identify black birch, confirmed by the strong smell of oil of wintergreen, reminding us of vapour rubs and creating imagery to run through the branches - just mind the nettles and brambles. Formosum sweet gum concluded a feast of autumn smells, colours and tasty blackberries.


Andrew thanked Dean, Steve and Mitchell whose text was examined many times under the increasingly blue sky.

Alan Mitchell - A Field Guide to the Trees of Britain and Northern Europe.