Conservation work to provide better natural habitats in the wilderness

Head of Gardens, Rosie Fyles explains why we’re removing overgrown laurels to open up the western wilderness area, encouraging more biodiversity and providing better natural habitat. 

What are we doing?
From early August our gardening team will be removing overgrown laurels from the Western Wilderness area between the Cascade and Burlington Gate. The laurels will be chipped and turned into a mulch. This area will then undergo planting of flowering plants and shrubs.

Why is this work needed?

When the laurels were originally planted, they were designed to grow up to head height or lower. If you have visited the area recently you will have seen that they’ve grown up to create a dense canopy preventing anything else from thriving on the Wilderness floor, and out-competing the other deciduous hornbeam, birch and maple trees.

Laurel has the additional disadvantage of being toxic for wildlife. Not only do laurel leaves contain ingredients that are damaging to birds and insects, but its dense wood is also a poor natural habitat. Our priority is to establish trees that are better habitats for wildlife and provide better carbon capture.

How will this affect our visitors?

There will be path closures for a few days. The result of this work will be less shade in this section of the Wilderness, while the new planting becomes established. By opening up this area, and with our future planting plans, we hope visitors will enjoy seeing habitat with a more diverse range of flowering plants, shrubs and trees, and the wildlife this supports.


This is a trial conservation project that we may apply to other areas of the Gardens if successful. If you have any questions about our gardening work please email