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NEWS RELEASE No: 162752 JUNE 2014

Take to the trees on the Sylva trail

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This summer, the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire will be home to an outdoor exhibition marking the publication of an extraordinary new book celebrating trees and woodland culture.

From 1 June to 31 August 2014, the Sylva Trail at Westonbirt will showcase a total of 20 beautiful botanical illustrations and accompanying text from The New Sylva, which was published this year to coincide with the 350th anniversary of John Evelyn’s original Sylva book – the first comprehensive study of British trees and the first book ever published by the Royal Society.

The book is a detailed celebration of British trees and woodland, written by Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet. Gabriel is a forest scientist and is chief executive of the Sylva Foundation. Sarah is a botanical artist of international renown who teaches at the Ruskin School of Art at the University of Oxford.

Staff from Westonbirt Arboretum helped Sarah Simblet source sample material which was used for studies of some of the trees illustrated in the book and have worked with the Sylva Foundation to create the trail.

Ben Oliver, learning and participation manager at Westonbirt Arboretum said:

“We are delighted that Westonbirt will be home to the Sylva Trail this summer. As the National Arboretum, it seems fitting that we should play host to this beautiful outdoor exhibition.”

“The book and the trail are a real celebration of trees and both aim to engage readers and visitors with trees in a new way; something which we are always keen to do here.”

Dr. Gabriel Hemery said:

“Westonbirt Arboretum and its staff played a key role in the production of the book as the collection of trees is a national treasure. The Sylva Trail at the arboretum is a fitting tribute to the enduring legacy of John Evelyn, and the perfect venue to celebrate our relationship with trees and forests.”

“The Sylva Foundation has supported the creation of the book and the exhibitions during 2014, as part of its work to revive a wood culture in Britain.”

The Sylva Trail runs at Westonbirt Arboretum from 1 June to 31 August 2014. Admission to Westonbirt Arboretum costs £8 for adults and £7 for concessions. Admission for children is £3 until 23 July when free admission for under 18s begins and runs until 31 August. The arboretum will be open from 9am to 5pm each day.


Images attached:

1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains nearly 15,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 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. Visit

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible 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

3. The Sylva Foundation is a charitable trust which supports forestry science, promotes trees and their management to the public, and supports the production and availability of home-grown timber. The Foundation’s charitable objects are to promote the conservation of the environment for the public benefit consistent with sustainable development principles. As part of a number of activities during 2014 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Evelyn’s Sylva, it is running a campaign: ‘love trees love wood’. See  for further information.

4. The authors of The New Sylva have a written a blog that captured the creation of the book and which covers related activities during 2014. Visit


Emily Pryor, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, on 01666 881 207 or