Visitors to Westonbirt, The National Arboretum this spring can follow two new seasonal trails from 1st March.

The trails at the Forestry Commission-managed National Arboretum will offer insight into the heritage landscape and the flowering trees and wildflowers within it. Trail stops in the Old Arboretum will include information on the origins of many of the heritage rhododendrons, camellias and other flowering trees. Rhododendron ‘Ernest Gill’ & admirers in the Old Arboretum. Copyright Jane Gifford 2011.

Areas shown on a Victorian map of the Old Arboretum have recently been opened up by the tree team to show off Westonbirt’s heritage flowers to those on the spring trail.

Over in Silk Wood, the spring trail will display a wildflower and grassland photography exhibition by Cotswolds photographer, Barney
Wilczak. The photography exhibition will aim to highlight the importance of grassland habitat to visitors on the trail.

Westonbirt Arboretum is a Grade I registered park and garden; a classification that includes the grassland area known as the Downs. The Downs area plays an important role in the landscape design of the arboretum and is thriving with native wildflowers and wildlife.

Visitors on the Silk Wood trail will be able to see images of common spotted orchids, cuckoo flowers and snake’s head fritillary; mounted with descriptions of why they are central to grassland life. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry

Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to the National Japanese Maple Collection, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000 specimens. Visitor numbers are over 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. 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.

www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt

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. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more visit www.forestry.gov.uk.

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, another fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. More information at www.fowa.org.uk

Useful links:
* Westonbirt Arboretum’s Spring Colour Watch blog
www.fowa.org.uk/your_westonbirt/blog
* Westonbirt Arboretum spring information
www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-spring
Source: Westonbirt Arboretum