I was one a fortunate few members of the short-lived Walnut Club, when they visited the Jaguar Cars assembly plant in Coventry in the late 1990s. There we saw the precision engineering and craftsmanship needed to fit real walnut veneer to the dashes of Jaguar’s prestige cars.
It was the start to a good relationship between Jaguar Cars and walnut growing in the UK. There was an obvious connection between the car manufacturer and the National Forest, with its proximity less than 50 miles away. It was also an active means of promoting a positive environmental message for the company.
While I was working with the Northmoor Trust I was invited by the National Forest to provide advice for the design and planting of a new walnut wood, to be sponsored by Jaguar Cars, at Lount in Leicestershire. I was successful in persuading them to consider including research trials as a main component of the planting. The partnership was supported by the Forestry Commission.
Planting started in 2001. I helped source a collection of grafted fruiting walnut cultivars to produce nuts for visitors, and perhaps squirrels, in the future. I also designed a walnut silviculture trial; the fourth of a series of trials I had planted across England testing the effect of companion planting with walnut. At Lount I included four types of walnut: common, black and two hybrids (NG23 and MJ209). Finally, between 2003-05, a provenance/progeny trial of black walnut (Juglans nigra) was planted at the site, containing trees raised from seed collected across 13 states of the USA and seven European countries (I will write a post about this in the future).
The creation of the Jaguar Walnut Wood attracted a lot of press interest when it was launched in 2002, and some of these are listed on my Media page. Further information is available online about the ongoing research, including an article by Jaguar Cars and various research reports by the Northmoor Trust who continue to lead the research.
If you are interested in visiting Jaguar Lount Wood you can see more page about it on the Forestry Commission website.