The Serpentine Ride is a grassy path that defines the layout of the oldest part of the Arboretum, the original Pinetum, laid out by William Sawrey Gilpin in the 1830s. Gilpin was a leading promoter of The Picturesque style of planting and advised the Harcourt family on the establishment and layout of the arboretum. His influence is still strongly evident in the landscape today. The grassy path encourages visitors to follow a winding route among beautiful glades which include collections of flowering trees and shrubs. In this area of the Arboretum, you will find a wide variety of non-native species, including many stunning trees such as magnolias and rare conifers. The giant redwoods are some of the oldest specimens in the UK, having arrived from California in the late 1850s.
Galpin utilized certain woody plants to implement various principles of The Picturesque Style. This is central to one of the major strengths ate the Arboretum, providing it with a unique opportunity to combine science with the aesthetic. One of Gilpin's planting styles encourages the use of evergreen trees or shrubs as a back drop to extenuate certain traits of plants in the foreground. For example, planting Taxus baccata (common yew) as a back drop for Acer palmatum (Japanese maple) to enhance the display of autumn colour.