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There’s more to autumn at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, than the world famous maples
Venture from the crowd at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum this autumn and even the most regular of visitors could discover new areas of spectacular autumn colour.
The National Arboretum, situated in the heart of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and managed by the Forestry Commission, is internationally known for the fiery autumnal colour of its Japanese maples as well as hundreds of other species.
Despite its popularity, there are a number of quiet backwaters where you can find spectacular shows of colour to rival the celebrity maples.
Victory Glade in the Old Arboretum is often by-passed by people making their way to the popular Acer Glade. The full moon maples, katsura, dawn redwood and the rare Kentucky coffee tree all make Victory Glade a must-see stop on your route through.
Recently revived and opened up by the Westonbirt tree team, Wigmore Bottom is another more secluded piece of the Westonbirt patchwork. A kaleidoscope of colours can be spotted here on the hickory, Oriental plane and various birch trees.
Climb the slope away from Waste Drive in Silk Wood, and once you leave the tended belt of arboretum planting you'll discover Beech Bank; a wilder landscape of beech, oak, field maple and dogwood. The beech trees in particular provide a beautiful show of late autumn colour.
Another adventure off the main route towards Maple Loop will take you to Concord Glade. Here you'll find interesting species including deciduous conifers, swamp cypress and larch. The former's leaves turn a gorgeous tawny, orange shade.
Busy in the spring but often overlooked in the autumn, Silk Wood’s cherry collection provides great autumn colour, and this area is well worth a detour from the more popular Link.
And for searchers of real tranquillity, try the ash collection near to Waste Drive. It's always difficult to know with ash, but in a good year some species can surprise with their colour.
Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt for more ideas for your visit this autumn. Follow the autumn colour updates at www.fowa.org.uk from 1 October.
NOTES TO EDITOR
1. Westonbirt - the National Arboretum is part of the Forestry Commission estate and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to the National Japanese Maple (Acer) collection, the National Arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000 specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of 25,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford, and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboreta, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria.
2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk
3. Westonbirt – the National Arboretum is part of the Westonbirt Heritage Partnership, which consists of the Forestry Commission, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, Westonbirt School and the Holfords of Westonbirt Trust. The Partnership plans to reconnect the historic Westonbirt estate, conserve its unique heritage and inspire future visitors through the Westonbirt Project, supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund.
4. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity’s objects are to support the National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from 25,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities.
Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager, Westonbirt the National Arboretum, on 01666 881 207 or email: email@example.com