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Westonbirt Arboretum

Westonbirt Arboretum

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Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission
Forestry Commission
The Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. Its mission is to protect and expand Britain's forests and woodlands and increase their value to society and the environment....

. Westonbirt Arboretum
Arboretum
An arboretum in a narrow sense is a collection of trees only. Related collections include a fruticetum , and a viticetum, a collection of vines. More commonly, today, an arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants intended at least partly for scientific study...

 is located near the historic market town of Tetbury
Tetbury
Tetbury is a town and civil parish within the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England. It lies on the site of an ancient hill fort, on which an Anglo-Saxon monastery was founded, probably by Ine of Wessex, in 681. The population of the parish was 5,250 in the 2001 census.In the Middle Ages,...

 in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and is perhaps the most important and widely known arboretum in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

Planted in the heyday of Victorian plant hunting in the mid-19th century, today Westonbirt Arboretum is one of the finest tree collections in the world, carefully laid out within a beautiful Grade One listed historic landscape.

The arboretum


The arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission
Forestry Commission
The Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. Its mission is to protect and expand Britain's forests and woodlands and increase their value to society and the environment....

, which also manages Bedgebury Pinetum
Bedgebury Pinetum
Bedgebury National Pinetum at Bedgebury, Kent, in the United Kingdom, is a recreational and conservational arboretum and, with the National Arboretum at Westonbirt, comprises the UK National Arboreta. It was established as the National Conifer Collection in 1925 and is now recognised as the most...

. Westonbirt Arboretum is supported by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity. There has been evidence of coppicing
Coppicing
Coppicing is a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level...

 at the site from 1292. First use of the name "" was in 1309. This was taken from Weston, a settlement to the west of Bowldown
Bowldown
Bowldown is a village in Wiltshire, England....

 Road, and Birt from then lords of the manor, the Bret family.

The arboretum was established in 1829 by Robert Stayner Holford
Robert Stayner Holford
Robert Stayner Holford , of Westonbirt, in the village of Weston Birt, co. Gloucestershire, MP for East Gloucestershire, was a wealthy landowner, gardening and landscaping enthusiast, and an art collector...

 and was later extended by his son George Lindsay Holford
Sir George Holford
Sir George Holford was the son of Robert Stayner Holford. He inherited his father's considerable fortune which included the two properties of Westonbirt House and Dorchester House...

. After the death of George in 1926, ownership of the arboretum passed to his nephew
Nephew
Nephew is a son of one's sibling or sibling-in-law, and niece is a daughter of one's sibling or a sibling-in-law. Sons and daughters of siblings-in-law are also informally referred to as nephews and nieces respectively, even though there is no blood relation...

 the fourth Earl of Morley
Earl of Morley
Earl of Morley, in the County of Devon, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1815 for the politician John Parker, 2nd Baron Boringdon. He was made Viscount Boringdon, of North Molton in the County of Devon, at the same time, which title is used as a courtesy title by...

, and eventually to the Forestry Commission
Forestry Commission
The Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. Its mission is to protect and expand Britain's forests and woodlands and increase their value to society and the environment....

 in 1956. The Holford family's mansion Westonbirt House
Westonbirt House
Westonbirt House is a country house in Gloucestershire, England. It belonged to the Holford family from 1665 until 1926. The first house on the site was an Elizabethan manor house...

, became a girls' boarding school in 1927 when it was separated from the arboretum. Westonbirt Arboretum backs onto the Highgrove Estate of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales
Prince of Wales is a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the 15 other independent Commonwealth realms...

.

Westonbirt Arboretum comprises some 18,000 tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s and shrub
Shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s, over an area of approximately 600 acre
Acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...

s (2.4 km²). Its 17 miles (27 km) of marked paths are popular with visitors, and provide access to a wide variety of rare plants. There are two main areas to explore. The Old Arboretum is a carefully designed landscape offering beautiful vistas, stately avenues, and a host of rare and exotic trees from across the globe dating back to the 1850s. Silk Wood is a very different experience. Although it also contains many exotic plantings, at its heart is a traditional working woodland, dating back to the 13th century.

Throughout the arboretum, each specimen tree is labeled, either on the trunk or one of the low-hanging branches. Blue labels indicate Westonbirt's "champion trees", the tallest or largest of their kind in Britain. Currently (2011) there are 79 "champions". More locations and details can be found on the Westonbirt Interactive Map.

Location


Westonbirt Arboretum is situated in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

 on the A433 approximately 3 miles south west of Tetbury, at Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey , an executive agency and non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom, is the national mapping agency for Great Britain, producing maps of Great Britain , and one of the world's largest producers of maps.The name reflects its creation together with...

 mapping six-figure grid reference ST 848898. Opening times are 9am - 5pm, all year.

From the M4
M4 motorway
The M4 motorway links London with South Wales. It is part of the unsigned European route E30. Other major places directly accessible from M4 junctions are Reading, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea...

 (approx 20 mins): exit the motorway at Junction 18. Take the A46
A46 road
The A46 is an A road in England. It starts east of Bath, Somerset and ends in Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, but it does not form a continuous route. Large portions of the old road have been lost, bypassed, or replaced by motorway development...

 north towards Stroud
Stroud
Stroud a town and civil parish in the county of Gloucestershire, England.Stroud may also refer to:*Stroud, New South Wales, Australia*Stroud, Ontario, Canada*Stroud , Gloucestershire, UK*Stroud...

. After a few miles turn right onto the A433 (signed Cirencester
Cirencester
Cirencester is a market town in east Gloucestershire, England, 93 miles west northwest of London. Cirencester lies on the River Churn, a tributary of the River Thames, and is the largest town in the Cotswold District. It is the home of the Royal Agricultural College, the oldest agricultural...

). Continue on this road for approx 3 miles and the arboretum is on your left.

From M5 (approx 20 mins): exit the motorway at Junction 13 onto the A419
A419 road
The A419 road is a primary route between Chiseldon near Swindon at junction 15 of the M4 with the A346 road, and Whitminster in Gloucestershire, England....

 (towards Stroud). Take the A46 (towards Bath). After going though Nailsworth
Nailsworth
Nailsworth is a town in Gloucestershire, England, lying in one of the Stroud Valleys in the Cotswolds. It has a population of around 6,600 people and lies on the A46 road....

, come to traffic lights at cross roads. Turn left onto A4135 to Tetbury. In Tetbury, turn right on the A433. Continue on this road, passing through Doughton, for approx 3 miles. The arboretum is on your right.

Festivals


From 2003-05 the arboretum hosted Britain's first designer led garden festival: Westonbirt Festival of the Garden.

In 2011, Treefest was launched. Following several successful years of the Festival of the Tree event, Westonbirt Arboretum refreshed the popular August bank holiday event with camping, music and more activities celebrating trees and nature.

Christmas and the spectacle of bare, sculpted trees in winter is celebrated at the Enchanted Christmas event. From the end of November and throughout December, an evening illuminated trail runs throughout the Old Arboretum, highlighting the beauty of Westonbirt's trees in winter.

External links