Carboretum: from Acer to Quercus

Carboretum invokes the idea of the Arboretum: a specialist collection, a living exhibition of rare trees. In the first English Arboreta of the early 19th Century, trees were planted out in alphabetical order – from Acer to Quercus – in great spirals or grand avenues with rides running in between so the collections could be viewed on horseback.

In Carboretum, the plaques traditionally used to indicate a specimen tree’s botanical name are replaced by a series of ‘private’ car number plates bearing the Latin names of trees that make up much of our native, deciduous woodland.

Installed in the car park at King’s Wood, these ‘plaques’ demarcate a space where the taxonomies of tree and car collide and resonate with strange new possibilities. Do these plates signal reserved parking bays for the resilient trees that have colonised our landscape since the ice sheet receded? Could they point to plots allocated for future plantings of species that are common today but may yet become rarities?

Edward Chell. July, 2009