August 28th, 2015

As part of our overall improvements to Westonbirt, including the new Welcome Building, we have planned to improve our facilities for disabled visitors. We will be creating an Adult Changing Room/Changing Place space for visitors in the main toilet block by the Great Oak Hall.

This new facility will include toilet facilities and some additional equipment and alterations such as a height adjustable changing bed and a ceiling hoist.

An image of the type of changing be we'll be installing in our new adult changing room

This should enable visitors who cannot use a standard disabled toilet such as those with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and some older people to access the arboretum.

The number of users will be increasing as our learning team and community officers work with a number of visitors from excluded audiences.

This improvement is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Sophie Nash, Project Manager

Tree of the month: September 2015

August 28th, 2015

Heptacodium miconioides
What is tree of the month?
Heptacodium miconioides

Why is it tree of the month?
This large shrub (or small tree!) native to China flowers in September. The white flowers are attractive among the green foliage and a most pleasant sight among the early colourers in the annual autumn show.

Where can I find it?
Notable specimens can be found in Colour Circle in the Old Arboretum and in Maple Loop in Silk Wood.

Dan Crowley, Dendrologist

Last year’s award-winning exhibitors are returning – must be Treefest!

August 21st, 2015

Every year we give awards to a handful of Treefest exhibitors who represent high standards of sustainability, creativity and generally bring something special to Treefest. It’s always a tough choice, but great fun to meet all of our wonderful exhibitors and find out more about what they’ve got to offer. Each of the winners gets a certificate to show off in their stand as well as a lovely Westonbirt Maple tree.

Here’s a round-up of 2014’s winners. We are pleased to say that all of these exhibitors are returning this year, and I will be checking that their trees are still growing!

Best promotion of sustainable tree or wood product
Whiskey Barrel Rockers
This will be Robbie’s third year at Treefest and you can find him on Maple Avenue this year. He sells beautiful garden and patio furniture which is handmade in Scotland from decommissioned whiskey barrels.

Whiskey Barrel Rockers

Most inspiring and original use of wood
Ian Sanders
Ian has been exhibiting at Treefest for many years. You’ll find him on Acer Avenue this year. Ian makes the most amazing tables which you can see him hand carving throughout event.

Ian Sanders

Best promotion of sustainable food source
Dick Willows Cider
Returning again this year within the Love Food Festival area is Dick Willows. Richard sells traditional, organic cider which is locally made.

Dick Willows 

Best Overall Exhibitor
Yew Turn
Ralph and Elke have been exhibiting at Treefest for 20 years and you will find them in the same spot that they have every year, on the corner of Maple Avenue A. Each year they have nonstop woodturning demonstrations. They also display high quality turnery and slate ware which are decorative yet functional, showing real warmth and beauty.

Yew Turn

Julie McKellar, Events Co-ordinator

Fiery Focosa pizza at Love Food Festival – must be Treefest!

August 20th, 2015

Love Food Festival first came to Treefest in 2013 and in 2014 they were given their own avenue on the festival site. It was such a great hit they are now a permanent feature at Treefest.

The Love Food Festival area at Treefest

With their handpicked market stalls of local producers, there will be lots of exciting food to take home with you. Some will even be cooking and selling some mouth watering food throughout the day for you to eat, including delicious Portuguese pastries, gooey, chocolatey American-style brownies, burgers using locally sourced and free range meats, pizza cooked in wood-fired ovens, artisan tray-bakes, Polish recipe doughnuts and delicious preserves and chutneys.

I have selected a few below, but for the whole selection of producers and to find out more, go to the Love Food Festival website.

Lorraine is back again this year with her “Farmhouse Kitchen”. Vowley Farm has always been a firm favourite with our festival-goers. They are local farm selling locally produced meats and this year they will be cooking an all-day farmhouse breakfast with homemade baked beans and gourmet sausages and bacon – there is also a vegetarian option. At lunchtime you can get their very popular brunch burger, but be quick, they sold out last year. In the afternoon, why not try some homemade cakes with a cup of tea or coffee? I’ll definitely be there.

Lorraine of Vowley Farm

Foodstation Wales have been coming to Treefest for at least seven years, selling their Mediterranean delicacies and antipasti such as olives, pickles, Turkish delight, flavoured nuts and Greek cakes. Now this is one of my favourite stalls and I challenge anyone to walk past without buying something!

Just Wood Fired are new to Treefest this year. They specialise in pizzas cooked in wood-fired ovens, from traditional favourites such as margherita and pepperoni to more specialised pizzas like their focosa which is fiery, hot and not for the faint-hearted! Or why not choose your own toppings and name it yourself – the choice is yours!

Julie McKellar, Events Co-ordinator

Wolfson Tree Management Centre: An Update

August 19th, 2015

Work is currently underway on what will become the new Wolfson Tree Management Centre. The new facility will provide all that Westonbirt’s expert tree team needs to manage the tree collection.

The timber frame is almost ready to be lifted into its final position in mid-September. The contractors are waiting for the steel brackets to arrive so are currently preparing the cladding.

The machinery store building will be predominately clad in timber with a polycarbonate wall by the new vehicle wash down area. The cladding is being fabricated in panels so it can be lifted into position once the frame is up which helps speed up the completion of the building.

Cladding being fabricated
The cladding is fixed to large cladding rails. A frame/rig is created so that the contractors can ensure the cladding panel is the correct width ready for fixing to the timber frame.

Cladding being created to the correct size
This photo shows the packers used to create a small gap between each piece of cladding.

Packers create gaps between each piece of cladding
Some very large screws have been used to hold the large sections of timber in place!

A finished cladding panelClose-up of a finished cladding panel
A finished panel! Several different sizes of timber have been used in the cladding which should look great when in their final position.

Sophie Nash, Project Manager

Fire-cracker gourmet burgers… must be Treefest!

August 13th, 2015

Every year when we look for caterers for Treefest, we try to find something that will please all of our festival goers. This year several of our popular, tried and tested caterers will return to the festival. You can find them in the main picnic area, next to our music marquee – sit down and relax with some delicious food and listen to the live local music. What could be better?

Hog roast

This year, Martin and Tracy of MDB Catering have made some changes to their menu. In addition to their ever-popular hog roast they will be serving an all new selection of mouth-watering gourmet burgers.


The new gourmet burger menu ranges from a classic cheese burger, a burger with bacon, and for those who dare, the FIRE CRACKER which includes jalapenos and gherkins. They will also be serving local wild boar burgers with cheese.

For vegetarians, there will be delicious baked potatoes and baguettes with mouth-watering fillings!

Strawberry Chariot

The Strawberry Chariot will also return to Treefest, selling strawberries with fresh cream and cream teas. They even make their own strawberry jam. Yummy!

For those who like something cold, Winstones Ice Cream will be selling various flavours throughout the festival. All of their ice creams are made using organic milk.

Stroud BreweryPump-clip-WEB

Last but not least we have Stroud Brewery in the music marquee and the picnic area. They will be bringing their delicious local ales and lagers as well as a special Treefest Arboretum Ale – give it a try!

We’re also working with Bristol-based Love Food Festival to bring an array of local producers and street food to Treefest once again – a wonderful addition to our own long-standing favourites. Look out for a Love Food update soon!

Julie McKellar, Events Co-ordinator

STIHL Treetop Walkway: the legs have arrived!

July 31st, 2015

Almost all of the foundations are now in place ready for the legs to be craned into position. Each pair of legs has a foundation which provides stability and a firm base for the Walkway.

This photo shows one of the completed foundations. A galvanised steel plate will sit on top of each foundation; this will be held in position by the four very large bolts and nuts. So large that the contractors have struggled to find a local supplier with a large enough spanner!

A completed foundation

All of the foundations are different even for a pair of legs, this allows for the undulating ground levels and will provide extra support for the exciting features along the walkway. The photo below shows two of the foundations for crow’s nest where there will be extra legs supporting the cantilevered staircase.

Foundations for the crow's nest

We’ve reached an exciting stage; the first delivery of timber legs has arrived from Holland!

First delivery of legs arriving

The deliveries have been carefully planned to ensure the legs arrive unscathed. This is an image showing how each leg will be positioned in the lorry so each leg is protected from the lorry and from each other.

Carefully planned delivery

The legs are carefully lifted from the lorry one by one. Due to their size they are walked in to ensure they don’t swing and catch on anything as they are moved! The legs will be temporarily stored until they are ready to be craned into their final position.

Legs being lifted out of the lorry

Carefully walking the legs from the lorry

The first few legs will be lifted into position in the next few weeks once the plates are in position and the steel sections have arrived. A very large crane will be moving in to complete the first section along with other construction vehicles and materials.

Thank you for bearing with us whilst we create this exciting new experience and for placing your dogs on leads through the construction zone. It’s really appreciated and helps us and our contractors build the Walkway as safely and as quickly as possible. There will be some disruption and temporary footpath closures in the coming months. Sorry for any inconvenience but it will be worth it once you’re up high and enjoying be closer to the trees!

Sophie Nash, Project Manager

Tree of the month: August 2015

July 30th, 2015

Hybrid wingnut
What is tree of the month?
Pterocarya x rehderiana (hybrid wingnut)

Why is it tree of the month?
This vigorous grower named after the great Taxonomist Alfred Rehder (1863-1949) is a hybrid between the Caucasian (P. fraxinifolia) and Chinese wingnuts (P. stenoptera). The fruit, hanging in racemes, is particularly showy at this time of year.

Where can I find it?
Our specimen at Pool Gate is quite probably one of the original hybrids, with offspring from this growing strong on Sir Georges Walk.

Dan Crowley, Dendrologist

A visit from Yercombe Lodge

July 30th, 2015

Today I spent time out in the arboretum with one of our community officers, Claire Goulding, as she hosted a visit by Yercombe Lodge, a day centre and residential home for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Claire Goulding with a participant from Yercombe Lodge
The group’s arrival was friendly and relaxed. Claire and her team of volunteers welcomed the group and their accompanying staff and volunteers with tea, coffee and biscuits, before heading out into the arboretum.

Out in the arboretum with staff and participants from Yercombe Lodge
With a day of activities planned in, our first task was to get out into the trees and collect fallen leaves, flowers and feathers in preparation for the afternoon’s craft activity.

Picking out interesting trees along the way
As we made our way around the arboretum, Claire picked out interesting trees to look at, touch and smell – engaging the senses and telling stories along the way.

Making nature windows
With the finds from the arboretum, after lunch the group set about making ‘nature windows’, sandwiching choice bits and pieces between heavily glued tissue paper in patterns which, once dried, look really effective in a window or held up to the light.

Claire with staff and participants from Yercombe Lodge
It was great to see such a diverse group getting so much from their visit here to Westonbirt. I also really enjoyed working with Claire and the dedicated team of volunteers who work so hard to help deliver a community inclusion programme which Westonbirt can really be proud of.

Gina Mills, Marketing Support Officer

What a super celebration!

July 30th, 2015

We wanted to do something special to mark 30 years of volunteering at the arboretum and it turned out to be a brilliant day.

Cake cutting
We had our biggest turn-out ever for a volunteer social event with 200 people taking part.

During the afternoon choices ranged from spoon carving, a wildflower walk, special tours of the Treetop Walkway construction site, or simply sitting and enjoying a catch-up with friends in the beautiful afternoon sunshine.

Volunteer award presentations
The bubbly flowed for the awards presentations where Simon Toomer (Arboretum Director) and Stephen Segar (Chair, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum) gave out long-service badges to recognise 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of volunteering at Westonbirt – an amazing contribution.

Cake with icing volunteers
And no party would be complete without Martin’s truly superb hog roast followed by a special celebratory cake (created by Leigh Jane from our Visitor Services team) topped with icing sugar volunteers! All-in-all a really fabulous day in the very best of places – wonderful Westonbirt!

Cheryl Pearson, Volunteer Manager