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Celebrating the Centenary of the Cyril Hart Arboretum

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Plaque unveiling On Saturday 17th September the family and friends of Cyril Hart celebrated this most auspicious event joining together with Forestry Commission staff past and present, the Forest of Dean Verderers, past Deputy Surveyors, the Arboretum Volunteers and many others who have contributed to the arboretum in many different ways.

This small but extraordinary arboretum contains over 200 different species of tree and shrub from all over the world.  There is always something of interest to see here throughout the whole year from flowering cherries in spring to Japanese maples in the autumn and enormous evergreen conifers in the winter.

Anthony Hart, son of Cyril Hart, planted a tree to celebrate the occasion, a cedar of Lebanon raised from seed collected in N. Lebanon.  He then unveiled a plaque together with Lady Bathurst, High Sherriff of Gloucestershire.   A guided walk followed, led by Richard Jinks from Forest Research, with facts and figures about many of the different trees.

It all started over a hundred years ago
The arboretum has an interesting tale to tell: it was originally known as “Speech House Arboretum” and was established in 1915 as an experiment.  Here foresters were testing how some of the newly discovered conifer species from China could potentially become the forestry species of the future.  They chose the site carefully with its fertile soil, average rainfall of 950mm and sheltered by mature oak woodland; a shelterbelt of beech was also established to the south-west.

They started their experiment with a collection of trees raised from seed brought back from Western China in 1910 by a famous plant collector, Ernest H Wilson.  More trees were added over the coming years including many from North America.  Records show us that a great number of the species planted died within 20 years due to frosts and fungi which hadn’t been an issue where the trees had originated.

Name Change
In 1999 the name of the arboretum was changed to The Cyril Hart Arboretum to commemorate Dr Cyril Hart a renowned forester; he served as Her Majesty’s Senior Verderer with a lifetime commitment to forestry. He had many years of connection with the arboretum and the Forest of Dean.


Notes to Editors:
Media contact: Heather Lilley, Community and Communications Manager, Forestry Commission Tel. 0300 067 4800