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Summer at Westonbirt Arboretum

After the exciting colours and blossoms of spring, summer brings with it a sense of tranquillity.

Family at Westonbirt The shiny new leaves on the trees range from cool lime green to the pinks and reds of the Japanese maple trees. 

A feeling of calm seems to filter through the arboretum, creating a wonderful atmosphere for relaxing – particularly in hot weather when the green leafy rides and secluded glades provide cool refreshment from the sun.

Early summer flowering trees and shrubs

Spring at Westonbirt 2007. Restricted - Westonbirt use only.

May and June see the flowering of some familiar flowering trees. Perhaps the most familiar is the hawthorn – indeed its white flowers are so common in our hedgerows at this time that they are traditionally thought to herald the start of summer.

Less familiar, but equally rewarding are some of our more exotic trees that choose the summer to flower - particularly the scented cream flowers of the summer flowering magnolias in Savill Glade or the lavender flowers of the Handkerchief Tree in flower. Westonbirt Arboretumfoxglove tree on Specimen Avenue.

But surely the highlight of early summer is the sight of the incredible white bracts of the handkerchief or dove tree, Davidia involucrata on Main Drive.

Late summer flowering trees and shrubs

Come July and August, a new set of trees comes into bloom. Two trees to seek out are the Indian bean tree, Catalpa bignonioides with its large numbers of small white and yellow flowers and bright green foliage (Main Drive) and the North American tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera with its distinctive four-lobed leaves and solitary tulip-like flowers.

Small-leaved lime bud burst.

But perhaps the most impressive in terms of sheer number of flowers are the lime trees, of which Westonbirt holds a National Collection. To get the full effect of this, it is worth visiting Lime Avenue on a warm still day during July.

Another lime that is equally worth a visit, albeit for a different reason, is our coppiced small-leaved lime, Tilia cordata, in Silk Wood. Research has dated this tree at over 2000 years old, it consists of over 80 small trunks and covers over a tenth of an acre.


Wildflowers have been recorded at Westonbirt intermittently since the 1880s in various surveys and floras.

To help conserve and develop Westonbirt as a rich wildflower landscape, the Westonbirt Wildflower Group of approximately 24 staff, Friends members and volunteers was founded in 2006.

The group includes retired botanists and meets once a month to identify, record, plan surveys and work to restore the rich wildflower and grass habitats. Find out more on our wildflower pages.

Last updated: 8th August 2016

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.