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NEWS RELEASE No: 1448111 MARCH 2011

Goddess magnolia set to explode into bloom

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Magnolia sprengeri diva

Experts at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, which is managed by the Forestry Commission, are expecting a bumper year for their champion Goddess magnolia tree, Magnolia sprengeri ‘Diva’.

At 22 metres tall Westonbirt’s Goddess magnolia is the largest specimen of its kind recorded in Britain and Ireland and designated a champion tree by the Tree Register of the British Isles.

The tree usually flowers in early April, but it looks as if it may be even earlier this year and more spectacular than normal. The team at Westonbirt always look forward to seeing the fabulous display of deep pink, dinner plate sized blooms when they appear.

Hugh Angus, Head of Collections, commented:

“With the amount of buds we are seeing this year it looks as if our Goddess magnolia is going to be even more spectacular than normal. Just imagine 1,000 pink flowers against a beautiful blue sky; a sight not to be missed!”

Westonbirt has a collection of over 140 magnolias throughout the arboretum.

This famous magnolia was originally named by the Williams family from Caehays Castle in Cornwall. It was selected from a seedling grown by the Veitch nursery in the early part of the last century. The seed in turn had been collected by the famous Gloucestershire plant hunter, Ernest Wilson, from one of his many expeditions to Western China.

All the spring flowering species of magnolia are deciduous, their flowers appearing before new leaves appear. Magnolias are just one of many fine flowering trees and shrubs that make such a wonderful spring colour display at Westonbirt from March through to June.


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 26,000. 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

  4. Further information on the Tree Register of the British Isles can be found at 

  5. Media contact Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, on 01666 881 207 or email: