The Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt will participate in a trip to South Korea this September, to collect seed from the wild for the arboretum. Arborist Tomas Dewey will travel to South Korea for nine days, with the aim of collecting seed which will be propagated at Westonbirt.

The trip is just one of several overseas collecting trips which the arboretum has participated in in recent years with the aim of diversifying Westonbirt’s tree collection.

Arboretum Director, Simon Toomer said:
“New trees and shrubs are the life-blood of the arboretum and seed collected from naturally-growing trees is invaluable for collections with scientific objectives such as Westonbirt.”

The list of trees targeted for collection in South Korea includes ash species native to Asia, for which special permission has been sought. These will add to the arboretum’s existing collection of this genus and may prove valuable in helping develop an understanding of Chalara fraxinea, or ash dieback disease.

Tomas will be joined by staff from the Forestry Commission’s National Pinetum at Bedgebury, and staff from Wakehurst Place, home to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, where some of the collected seed will also be deposited.
This team will be accompanied by staff from Korea National Arboretum.

Tomas said of his trip:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to work with other botanical collections in the UK and forge relationships with our contacts overseas. I’m looking forward to bringing back some interesting species for Westonbirt’s tree collection.”

Tomas’s trip has been generously funded by a private donor. You can keep up-to-date with his preparations and progress on the Korea 2013 seed collecting blog…

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 16,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 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.

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