Archive for the ‘Family Events’ Category

Whatever the Weather: Trees for our future climate. By Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Join our Learning Team for the ‘Whatever the Weather’ family trail around the arboretum this half term (between 12-14 February) to discover how trees survive in all sorts of weather, how trees can change the weather and what we are doing to prepare the arboretum for a changing climate.

Scientists expect that the British climate will become drier and hotter.

Westonbirt Arboretum is creating a one hectare site to trial species from different origins to see how they survive in our changing climate. This is called the 2050 Glade, which is close to the junction between Lime Avenue and Loop Walk in the Old Arboretum.

Ten initial species have been planted, including a field maple collected from seed in Turkey. Around half have survived the harsh winter. Field maple is a species native to England and it will be interesting to see whether the plant collected in Turkey performs any differently.

Field maple at Westonbirt, credit Gina Mills

Other species to be tested are the Turkish sweetgum, the Kamila tree and both the Chinese and Japanese Tallow tree. Three of these trees may be suitable substitutes for autumn colour providers, such as maples, that might not do so well in a warmer climate.

You can find out more by visiting the Great Oak Hall to pick up a trail map and taking part in our free fun activities at the Learning Centre between 11am and 3pm, 12-14 February.

Useful links and information:

General admission to Westonbirt Arboretum (until 28 February): adults £5, concessions £4, children £2.
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and accompanying children go free.
Take a look at the Plan Your Visit web pages for opening times, directions and more information.

Whatever the Weather: Missing home comforts. By Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Join our Learning Team for the ‘Whatever the Weather’ family trail around the arboretum this half term (between 12-14 February) to discover how trees survive in all sorts of weather, how trees can change the weather and what we are doing to prepare the arboretum for a changing climate.

The eucalyptus at Westonbirt Arboretum is a long way from home. Native to Australia, its normal climate is very different from our own.

Eucalyptus

It survives well here in the UK, but it doesn’t like the frost. Many eucalyptus trees don’t tolerate temperatures below -5C. So how is this one still alive?

The Holford family, who created Westonbirt Arboretum, planted a shelter belt of evergreen trees like yew and hemlock around the edge of the arboretum to protect more delicate trees from cold winds and frosts. We still lose trees due to cold weather from time to time, but the shelter belt helps to reduce this.

You can find out more by visiting the Great Oak Hall to pick up a trail map and taking part in our free fun activities at the Learning Centre between 11am and 3pm, 12-14 February.

Useful links and information:

General admission to Westonbirt Arboretum (until 28 February): adults £5, concessions £4, children £2.
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and accompanying children go free.
Take a look at the Plan Your Visit web pages for opening times, directions and more information.

Whatever the Weather: Can a tree predict the weather? By Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Join our Learning Team for the ‘Whatever the Weather’ family trail around the arboretum this half term (between 12-14 February) to discover how trees survive in all sorts of weather, how trees can change the weather and what we are doing to prepare the arboretum for a changing climate.

There is a lot of folklore surrounding trees as weather predictors. It’s hard to separate the myths from the science, as some people say that trees do react to changes in air pressure and humidity that we humans can’t detect. Here are some tree predictions, why not test them out for yourself?

“When maple leaves curl and turn bottom up in a blowing wind, rain is sure to follow”

“Open pinecones predict dry weather and closed pinecones predict rain”

“The first bloom on the horse chestnut tree indicates that winter is over and there will be no more cold weather”.

“If the oak flowers before the ash, we shall have a splash. If the ash flowers before the oak, we shall have a soak“

Ash leaves

You can find out more by visiting the Great Oak Hall to pick up a trail map and taking part in our free fun activities at the Learning Centre between 11am and 3pm, 12-14 February.

Useful links and information:

General admission to Westonbirt Arboretum (until 28 February): adults £5, concessions £4, children £2.
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and accompanying children go free.
Take a look at the Plan Your Visit web pages for opening times, directions and more information.

Whatever the Weather: Surviving life in a freezer. By Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Join our Learning Team for the ‘Whatever the Weather’ family trail around the arboretum this half term (between 12-14 February) to discover how trees survive in all sorts of weather, how trees can change the weather and what we are doing to prepare the arboretum for a changing climate.

Although their branches may seem delicate, birches are one of the toughest tree groups around. In fact they’re so tough they can survive even if their trunks freeze solid.

Birch at Westonbirt Arboretum

The secret behind their survival is the removal of water from their living cells – after all if there is no water to freeze, ice can’t form!

Pores in the walls of their cells allow water to move out of the cells and into the spaces between them, where it freezes. However, the pores are too small for ice to move back into the cells, protecting the cells from freezing. This method is so good, some trees can survive temperatures as low as -196 degrees celcius!

You can find out more by visiting the Great Oak Hall to pick up a trail map and taking part in our free fun activities at the Learning Centre between 11am and 3pm, 12-14 February.

Useful links and information:

General admission to Westonbirt Arboretum (until 28 February): adults £5, concessions £4, children £2.
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and accompanying children go free.
Take a look at the Plan Your Visit web pages for opening times, directions and more information.

Whatever the Weather: Urban Lungs. By Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Join our Learning Team for the ‘Whatever the Weather’ family trail around the arboretum this half term (between 12-14 February) to discover how trees survive in all sorts of weather, how trees can change the weather and what we are doing to prepare the arboretum for a changing climate.

Today we are beginning to realise the many ways street trees and parks make our cities nicer places to live. Plane trees (such as this one below) are particularly suited as they are highly tolerant of pollution.

London plane at Westonbirt, credit Gina Mills

Thanks to evaporation from their leaves, trees can help cool city temperatures during the summer – by as much as 6 degrees celcius in hot climates.

In winter they act as windbreaks helping to conserve heat. This reduces the energy required for heating and cooling. In addition their leaves help to clean the air and reduce noise. This promotes healthier communities – in fact a study showed that settings with trees lowered stress and blood pressure.

You can find out more by visiting the Great Oak Hall to pick up a trail map and taking part in our free fun activities at the Learning Centre between 11am and 3pm, 12-14 February.

Useful links and information:

General admission to Westonbirt Arboretum (until 28 February): adults £5, concessions £4, children £2.
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and accompanying children go free.
Take a look at the Plan Your Visit web pages for opening times, directions and more information.

Whatever the Weather: Wind stoppers and sun blockers. By Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Join our Learning Team for the ‘Whatever the Weather’ family trail around the arboretum this half term (between 12-14 February) to discover how trees survive in all sorts of weather, how trees can change the weather and what we are doing to prepare the arboretum for a changing climate.

In the 1800s Napoleon planted avenues of tall poplars along French roads to shade his marching armies. Although these armies may have disappeared, our use of trees for protection continues.

Lime Avenue at Westonbirt Arboretum credit Jane Gifford

Today trees like hawthorn, sloe and holly are often used by farmers to protect livestock, crops and soil from the wind.

As well as protecting crops from physical damage, hedges also protect the soil, reducing water loss and soil erosion. This leads to an increase in crop yields. Trees also benefit farm animals – in one study cows that could shelter under trees were found to produce more milk.

You can find out more by visiting the Great Oak Hall to pick up a trail map and taking part in our free fun activities at the Learning Centre between 11am and 3pm, 12-14 February.

Useful links and information:

General admission to Westonbirt Arboretum (until 28 February): adults £5, concessions £4, children £2.
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and accompanying children go free.
Take a look at the Plan Your Visit web pages for opening times, directions and more information.

Whatever the Weather: Huff and puff! By Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Join our Learning Team for the ‘Whatever the Weather’ family trail around the arboretum this half term (between 12-14 February) to discover how trees survive in all sorts of weather, how trees can change the weather and what we are doing to prepare the arboretum for a changing climate.

The wind is a major cause of tree death. Yet trees can grow in extremely windy areas – if they have the right shape and flexibility!

Where strong winds blow from one direction, ‘flagging’ can occur.

Scotts pine with signs of flagging from strong winds

This is where the branches grow only on the downwind side of the tree. Some trees even grow flat along the ground.

Other trees like the palm are very flexible and can bend right over. This allows them to even withstand hurricanes.

You can find out more by visiting the Great Oak Hall to pick up a trail map and taking part in our free fun activities at the Learning Centre between 11am and 3pm, 12-14 February.

Useful links and information:

General admission to Westonbirt Arboretum (until 28 February): adults £5, concessions £4, children £2.
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and accompanying children go free.
Take a look at the Plan Your Visit web pages for opening times, directions and more information.

Turning a learning centre into a wintry wonderland! by Caroline Bennett, Learning Assistant

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Christmas is coming! There’s no getting away from it now, we are in full decoration frenzy here in the learning department at Westonbirt. Today Chris and I were joined by our team of volunteers and two professional “winter effects” specialists. The task in hand is to create a magical place for visitors to make natural crafts during our Enchanted Christmas event. This is what it takes:

To turn a learning centre into a wintry wonderland:

10 sheets of moulded “ice”
11 Christmas trees
150 kgs of wax
4 trailer loads of fresh greenery
44 metres of red velvet ribbon
50 metres of green satin ribbon
One snow machine

A child enjoying crafts at Enchanted Christmas

And to prepare the crafts:

4000 pipe cleaners cut into quarters
5000 willow stems from the Somerset levels
Thousands of cones, collected from the arboretum and then sorted by species
2kg of cinnamon, lightly crushed with a sledge hammer
1kg of star anise
600g of cloves
A pile (taller than me) of large cypress branches
100 metres of muslin, cut into 15cm squares
100 fabric crayons (A quick experiment shows that this will definitely not be enough, we need at least 300 more)
60 more metres of green and red ribbon
40 balls of wool
3.5 kg of glitter
5 litres of glue
40 yoghurt pots donated by our volunteers
9 cups of tea
8 cups of coffee
1 hot chocolate
18 mince pies to feed our willing workers!

We are getting slightly over excited. I really hope you can all come to see the final effect!

Find out more and buy tickets for an Enchanted Christmas…

Autumnal highlights: Cross breed, by Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

As part of Westonbirt’s activities for families this October, Caroline Bennett from our Learning and Participation Team has created a trail of autumnal highlights which will run from 29 October – 2 November. Here are some of the fascinating facts she has researched…

24 May 2011 025
Unlike deciduous trees, this tree, Pinus x schwerinii, has a very different survival strategy. It has tough weather resistant leaves that stay on the tree throughout the winter.

Evergreen leaves are often waxy or hairy, small in size (like these needles) or thick and leathery like rhododendron. All these features help to reduce water loss during winter.

This pine is a natural cross between the Eastern White Pine from North America and the Blue Pine from Afghanistan. It was discovered in (and named after) the town of Schwerin in Germany, where the two trees were growing near one another in a park.

Useful links
Find out more about the Autumnal Highlights family event…
Become a member of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and your kids will go free for a year. Join now…

Autumnal highlights: A chip off the old block, by Caroline Bennett, Education Officer

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

As part of Westonbirt’s activities for families this October, Caroline Bennett from our Learning and Participation Team has created a trail of autumnal highlights which will run from 29 October – 2 November. Here are some of the fascinating facts she has researched…

Prunus serrulata 'Tai Haku' great white or hill cherry_AMGilbert_highres
The Great White Cherry produces lots of double white blossoms in spring that fall to the ground like snow. It is a cultivar bred for its beautiful flowers, but not its seeds.

The Great White Cherry or ‘Tai Haku’ cherry rarely produces viable seed. This tree, like many cultivars, will have be grown from a cutting which is in effect a clone of the parent tree.

Though plant cloning might sound like something from science fiction, humans have been growing plants in this way for thousands of years.

Useful links
Find out more about the Autumnal Highlights family event…
Become a member of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and your kids will go free for a year. Join now…