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Westonbirt – the National Arboretum is blooming. The Forestry Commission managed botanical tree garden is famous for its autumn colour, but spring is one of its best-kept and most glorious secrets
Creamy magnolias, glorious pink rhododendrons and beautifully scented azaleas of the Old Arboretum provide a vibrant contrast to sky blue wood anemones and pastel blossoms of the Japanese and Chinese flowering cherry trees of Silk Wood.
These spring bank holidays discover more about the collection by following one of the seasonal trails. Rise early enough on 2 May and you could join the Dawn Chorus Walk to discover the symphony of birdsong hidden amongst the trees.
Throughout May and the summer months you can take part in various wildflower walks, led by specialist volunteers of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.
There are also special trails for kids and play maps to explore the exciting hidden world of natural play areas, including dens, forts and some great trees for climbing. Download the play trails at www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-families
Now is an exciting time for the National Arboretum. Over the coming months, Westonbirt will see the results of a new method to reproduce its rarest and oldest rhododendrons.
Many of the plants, some over 100 years old and great natural treasures, are undergoing a new technique which tricks the plants into growing new roots from their branches.
Good results will mean the propagation team can gain new plants from rare hybrids in Westonbirt’s famous collection. Many of these originated from the trials of the Victorian plant hunters who first contributed to the arboretum in the 19th Century.
For more details and times of the Dawn Chorus and Wildflower Walks, visit the events pages of www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt
NOTES TO EDITOR
Image attached: Prunus x hillieri ‘Flowering Cherry’, credit to Rob Cousins.
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 23,000. 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 23,000 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