Forestry Commission logo

International spring show expected at Westonbirt

This news story is now over a year old and information may no longer be accurate or up-to-date. It might also contain obsolete links.
Please use our search link on the left to look for more recent information.
Flowering Magnolia tree at Westonbirt Arboretum

As the spring season approaches, The Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt prepares for a stunning international spring display.

Whereas Westonbirt’s famous autumn display is led by its Japanese maples, spring is a more varied affair. The seasonal show is a testament to the diversity of the collection with trees from around the world producing a spectacular display of colour and smells.

As the spring season develops Silk Wood beckons its colourful spring calling with carpets of bluebells, a display enhanced by the striking backdrop of the new foliage on the Japanese maples.

The Himalayan Rhododendron arboreum provides a celebration of colour and scents in Savill Glade and the champion Chinese Magnolia sprengeri ‘Westonbirt Diva shows off its 21m tall spring display of abundant pink blooms.

While visitors take in the spring season in the collection, propagation takes the limelight behind the scenes. This spring the team will be busy propagating species collected from the different climate of North America, following a seed collecting expedition to add to the National Collections, improve research potential and enhance future seasonal displays.

Some of the species collected from the US will be trialled over the coming years to see how they fare in our climate. This could help indicate what additional species could make up the future seasonal landscape at Westonbirt.

Westonbirt Arboretum’s Dendrologist, Dan Crowley said:

“Spring at Westonbirt is the perfect time for visitors to not only witness the stunning display Westonbirt has to offer, but also to appreciate the breadth of species that contribute at this time of year - and their stories too!

“While the trees put on an incredible floral and foliar show for visitors, behind the scenes we’re busy propagating new species from a recent trip to America. We eagerly look forward to seeing how they’ll fare in our climate and potentially enhance future seasonal display. It’s quite an art - each species must be treated individually, based on the plants natural environment, in order to help each one germinate and gain a good start in life.”

The propagation process continues throughout the spring season and once germinated, the seeds are pricked out and grown on. Each species is considered individually as the Propagator works out all the different elements needed to give it the best chance to germinate and grow. This can involve temperature, compost type, stratification procedures and more to try and recreate its native habitat.

Other spring showstoppers to look out for over the coming months, include the Halesia carolina, from South Eastern USA, nicknamed little silverbells due to the masses of bell-shaped white flowers it bears, the Picea orientalis ‘Aurea from Georgia, a beautiful conifer cultivar with dramatic golden foliage, the Enkianthus campanulatus, from Japan with its late show of clusters of small cream bell-shaped flowers with red veins, the arboretum’s collection of camellias originating from Asia and not forgetting the USA’s Aesculus x neglecta ‘Erythroblastos’ commonly known as the sunrise horse chestnut with its bright pink flushed new foliage.

To find out more, visit where an up to date gallery of images, shared via Westonbirt’s Facebook Page, will highlight how the beautiful spring blooms are developing.


For more information please contact:

Emily Pryor, Westonbirt Arboretum on 01666 881207 or email

Notes to Editors

The National Arboretum is situated at Westonbirt, three miles from Tetbury in Gloucestershire.

The National Arboretum is open from 9am Monday to Sunday all year round except Christmas Day.

Information on admission and events can be found at

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 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 over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity (no. 293190). More information at  

4. The Westonbirt Project will make a big difference to everybody who comes to the arboretum. The project will mean a better welcome, a better visit and a better understanding of the heritage and importance of this world class tree collection. More information can be found at