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NEWS RELEASE No: 1481120 JULY 2011

Inspired by autumn at Westonbirt Arboretum

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Autumn at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, managed by the Forestry Commission, will this year be celebrated with poetry and photography inspired by the tree collection’s spectacular seasonal changes.

Each stop on the autumn seasonal trail will feature a Japanese haiku-style poem, selected from entries to a competition run by the Westonbirt Magazine over the summer.

Visitors will also have the chance to submit photographs to an online competition.

Autumn colour at Westonbirt Arboretum has excited visitors for over a century.  In the late 1890s and early 1900s, the picturesque design and exotic plantings were only available to guests of Westonbirt’s owners, the Holford family. A select few would be invited to ‘colour parties’ hosted by Sir George and Lady Holford.

George inherited Westonbirt in 1892 from his father, the arboretum’s creator, Robert Holford. Both men had a passion for the picturesque landscape design and exotic plantings that were popular in the Victorian period. Trees such as Westonbirt’s famous Japanese maples and Persian ironwoods were collected from around the world to produce a vibrant show of colour.

The arboretum was passed to the Forestry Commission in 1956 and opened to the public in 1962. Now, thousands of visitors each year make their way to Westonbirt during October and November to experience one of nature’s most dramatic seasonal displays.

To find out more about the inspired by autumn photography competition, autumn’s guided walks, colour watch blog and seasonal highlights, visit from 1 September 2011.

Notes to editors

  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 27,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford, and later developed by his son George Holford.  Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Westonbirt’s website is

  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 at

  3. 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 27,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. More information at  

Media contact - Katrina Podlewska on 01666 881 207 or email: