Archive for the ‘Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum’ Category

A day in the life of a student arborist

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Once again our student arborist placement is well under way, and this year we’ve been thrilled to receive the generous support from two funders, the Finnis Scott Foundation and the Ernest Cook Trust, which has covered all the costs for one of our placements.

Joe is with us following his studies at Myerscough College, and having been with us for 2 months, he’s definitely getting stuck into the role. We asked him a few questions about his experience so far.


How’s the placement going so far?

It’s going well – there’s been a really good mix of practical activities and desk-based work. It’s been great as I’ve been able to really tailor the role in terms of getting bits of experience I need. For example, I wanted to get to grips with job-coding, which involves examining trees and determining their health and how much upkeep they need going forward. Mark [Westonbirt’s curator] has been really accommodating in making sure I’ve been able to take on tasks to ensure I gain skills in all areas of tree management. It’s also been good to be around people with so much knowledge. Everyone’s prepared to take the time out and pass on the benefits of their experience.

What’s been the best bit? What have you particularly enjoyed?

Definitely tractor driving, which I hadn’t done before I started at Westonbirt.

Is there one key thing you think you might take from this experience?

A highlight will definitely be being able to look back and see that I’ve been able to influence the landscape.

And what are your future plans?

I’m hoping to go into land management, working for a tree team as an arborist or I might even go freelance as a consultant.


Mark, who manages the placement and is Westonbirt Arboretum’s curator, believes fervently that this placement is of huge value both to the arboretum and the students.

The placement is well established and has been running successfully for many years now, and it really benefits both parties. 

The students obviously gain valuable work based experience and not only learn new skills but put existing experience into practice. They always enjoy the chance to use the academic knowledge gained at college or university in a ‘live’ situation, and take a lot back into the final year of study. They always find the chance to work alongside experienced practitioners very beneficial, as our arborists can pass on helpful insight and practical tips on a daily basis. 

We in turn enjoy fresh faces in the team each year, bringing enthusiasm, the latest thinking and an exchange of ideas. It keeps us on our toes, as the students are constantly questioning our methods and reasoning. This regular scrutiny helps us to make sure we are on the right track with our plans and policies in particular.

The opportunities to gain essential experience can be limited, especially for mid-year students, and so we feel it is very important to keep this offer alive. After a year with us undertaking a wide variety of different tasks, students often have a much better idea as to which particular area they would like to specialise in the future too.”

Thanks again to the Finnis Scott Foundation and Ernest Cook Trust for their generous funding. Our student arborist placements run every year and need funding to cover a salary for the student, qualifications & certification, tools & equipment, learning visits to other arboreta, and clothing & personal protection equipment.

If you would like to support the tree team by making a donation, please contact

Christmas fundraising – a big thank you!

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Thank you to everyone who bought a raffle ticket, bid on a silent auction lot or who took part in the activities in the Great Oak Hall during Enchanted Christmas.

I hope you had as much fun as we did.

Thanks to you, we’ve raised over £4,000 to help support the arboretum.

For anyone who took part in the guess the number of lights on the trail competition, there were actually 22,189 lights. Well done to Oliver for guessing the closest.

We were particularly impressed by the amazing drawings that our younger visitors did for the children’s drawing competition. We could only have two winners but have included some of the drawings that we thought were particularly good.

Grace aged 8 and Camilla aged 6 were our winners – click on the first two images in our gallery to see their work. The gallery also includes some of the other lovely drawings entered into the competition:

Thank you also to all the amazing volunteers who helped and to Snowbusiness and Powerline for their help with the event and to Calcot Kitchens, Neil Carmichael MP, The Vine Tree, Highgove, Williams Automobiles, Kena and Sean Magee, Whatley Manor, Francois Bronn, Waitrose Malmesbury, Thomas of Malmesbury, The James Dyson Foundation, Paul Hayden from Greenwood Courses, Ballooning Network, David Ewins, The Dormy House Hotel, Margaret Headen, Bloomsbury Publishing, Jigsaw, Cotswold beauty, Tracklements, Whichford Pottery, Wentworth’s, Cheltenham Festivals, Henrietta’s House and The Bath Chorus for their generous support.

Lorraine Jones, Fundraising Manager, Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Attention friends! Find out about your new cards here!

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

In early summer, all of our members will be issued with new cards to enable entry through the Welcome Building. When you receive your new bar-coded cards, your old style cards will no longer be valid. Each member will have a new card with their name on which is not transferable. If you have not already told us your first name(s), please send it and your membership number to so that we can process your new cards.

Welcome Building artist impression

Each member parent or member grandparent will be able to bring in their own children or grandchildren (aged 18 and under) and up to three dogs.

The Welcome Building will be open at 9am each morning, when the arboretum opens. Throughout the year, the Welcome Building will close at 5pm.

In the summer months Friends will be able to enter the arboretum after 5pm using their automated cards, although the rest of the building will be shut.

Important for you to know

To enable smooth operations at the Welcome Building for our current members and new joiners, Forestry Commission staff at Westonbirt will have access to some information that you have already given the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity so that we can administer your membership. Membership personal data remains the property of the Friends, is stored by the Friends and will not be transferred to or held by the Forestry Commission. If you have any queries in this respect, please email

Jacqueline Dalton,
Charity Manager

Recycling really helps!

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

John Kendall

By John Kendall, Volunteer at Westonbirt.

Did you know that by recycling your printer cartridges and mobile phones you can not only help the environment but also protect Westonbirt Arboretum?

I don’t use many printer inks and I am unlikely to change my mobile phone for a while but I was staggered to discover that taking part in the Recycling Scheme has already raised over £1600 for the Arboretum since January 2013!  It is very rewarding to know that by recycling my old printer cartridges I am helping to support the Westonbirt treescape at the same time.

It’s so easy! I go to the arboretum quite regularly so I just drop my used cartridges into one of the collection boxes in the Great Oak Hall, the Shop or Plant Centre. You can also pick up a freepost envelope at the Information Desk or order online and post up to three cartridges for free!  It is amazing how simple the process is.

I have been visiting the Arboretum for over twenty years and I always come away from there feeling enriched and so much better for my visit. It is wonderful to be able to contribute to the care of this unique and diverse tree garden by recycling. 

John is a supporter of our recycling scheme.  Click here to join him…

Dear Father Christmas

Friday, December 13th, 2013

I have been a really good girl all year and so I wondered if you would be able to add one more present to your list? I would really love a new mobile phone, perhaps a smart phone ( as the screen on mine is cracked) please.

And in return I will recycle my old phone through  and raise some money for the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum. Did you know they have raised over £1400 since last Christmas through recycling?

Actually Father Christmas, please could you pass on to all your contacts that a recycled mobile phone could raise as much as £70 for Westonbirt and its free and really easy! Just register on They collect printer inkjet cartridges too!

Thank you and Happy Christmas!


Louisa, Fundraising team.

Raising our sights!

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Volunteers helping with the Westonbirt Project had a unique opportunity recently to have a look at the view from the Treetop Walkway, before we even have a Treetop Walkway!A big thank you to the tree team for letting us borrow the cherry picker.

 Volunteers looking at the view from the walkway

It was fantastic to get up into the trees and see first hand what an amazing experience the Walkway will provide.  To find out more about our plans for a Treetop Walkway, the route it will take and how you can get involved, please come along to one of our information events

A friendly thanks!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

By Bev Starkings, membership co-ordinator for Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

fowa tent

The Friends had their first marquee dedicated to Membership at Treefest last month and it was a fantastic success. So we would like to thank all who made it happen and helped out.

We took a phenomenal 146 memberships during the weekend! It was wonderful to meet and talk to our members and explain how much their subscription makes a difference to Westonbirt Arboretum.

We were delighted with the positive comments about how much they were enjoying this year’s Treefest and how enthusiastic they are about the Westonbirt Project. A very positive and enjoyable experience!

For more information about the benefits of membership take a look at our webpage

5 Random Facts I learnt on our USA Trip, by Louise Bird, Head of Fundraising

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum’s Head of Fundraising, Louise Bird, and the Forestry Commission’s communications team at Westonbirt, Katrina Podlewska and Gina Mills, recently visited the USA, meeting their counterparts at arboretums and botanic gardens to find out who their visitors are, how they fundraise, and to learn from some of the best. The trip was funded by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.

Louise Bird and Katrina Podlewska at Arnold Arboretum, Boston

Even though the purpose of our trip was to learn about how they do fundraising, marketing and communications across the Atlantic, it was inevitable that we were going to glean a lot of information about trees.

I can now identify at least 5 different species of tree (an oak was about the best of my ability before I left home), know the state trees of the 5 states we visited (starting with the Ulmus americana of Massachussets and ending with the Quercus alba of Illinois) and have learnt 5 new things about how trees are used (ranging from curing scurvy to making baseball bats).

Then there are the ‘random’ facts, tidbits of information that I picked up along the way…

1. On our journey from New York to Cleveland we saw approximately 2,787,840,000 trees (we did the maths!)
2. New York City’s 592,130 trees are estimated to give $122million worth of annual benefits to the city residents
3. Americans invested in trees as a way of getting their money out of the UK after the war (the Holden Arboretum’s founder brought back English Oaks)
4. Penn’s Wood is the translation of the Latin word Pennsylvania
5. The buckeye got its name from the native Americans who thought that the nut resembled the eye of a buck deer.

It’s who you know! by Louise Bird, Head of Fundraising

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum’s Head of Fundraising, Louise Bird, and the Forestry Commission’s communications team at Westonbirt, Katrina Podlewska and Gina Mills, are currently in the USA, visiting their counterparts at arboretums and botanic gardens to find out who their visitors are, how they fundraise, and to learn from some of the best. The trip has been funded by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.

Polly Hill Arboretum

It was lovely to meet Tim and Karin from the Polly Hill Arboretum on Martha’s Vineyard. They were really generous with their time, talking to us about the work they do to both raise money for the arboretum and to raise the arboretum’s local and international profile. It was really interesting to hear just how intrinsically linked the 2 things are linked.

For a small arboretum they have been doing a fantastic job of fundraising. The secret of their growing success… people who already know and love and support Polly Hill arboretum championing it to their friends and peers who they think would love and support the arboretum if they got to know it too. It’s text book major donor fundraising and it works. (Well done to them for just raising $17 million to create an endowment for the arboretum!)

Polly Hill Arboretum website:

Places with personality, by Gina Mills, Marketing Officer

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum’s Head of Fundraising, Louise Bird, and the Forestry Commission’s communications team at Westonbirt, Katrina Podlewska and Gina Mills, are currently in the USA, visiting their counterparts at arboretums and botanic gardens to find out who their visitors are, how they fundraise, and to learn from some of the best. The trip has been funded by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.

The house where Polly Hill lived - now a library
The really striking thing about yesterday’s visit to the Polly Hill Arboretum was the parallels to be found with Westonbirt, despite the fact that the arboretums themselves are over 100 years apart in age.

An avenue of trees with a distinctive Martha's Vineyard dry stone wall behind it

The Polly Hill Arboretum was started by the late Polly Hill in 1958, when she inherited the farm that had been in her family for generations – like Westonbirt’s creator Robert Holford, the blank canvas for the arboretum she created was family land. Unlike him, she started her arboretum by planting seeds from scratch herself and waiting for them to germinate.

Rhododendron at Polly Hill Arboretum
Caring for the Polly Hill Arboretum also has parallels with Westonbirt. Like us, they try and honor the vision of their original creator. For example, they will never plant trees on the expanse of meadowland that lies at the back of the house she lived in, because her mother wanted to keep it this way and so did she.

Shingled barn at Polly Hill Arboretum
This former family farm is scattered with shingled outbuildings and houses dating to the 1700s. Polly Hill Arboretum is one of the few properties of this age open to the public on Martha’s Vineyard, and is another key reason to visit for many.

View into the conifer collection at Polly Hill Arboretum
Her distinctive approach is the reason that her arboretum is so unique. In a similar way Robert Holford’s adherence to the Picturesque principles of landscape design make Westonbirt such a unique experience, although Polly Hill’s approach does take a little more of the botanical order of things into account than Holford’s aesthetic approach.

The visitor centre at Polly Hill Arboretum
Another important personality at Polly Hill Arboretum is the late Dr David H. Smith. He was absolutely instrumental in making Polly Hill Arboretum into the public garden it is today. His interest in the work that Polly was doing blossomed into a great friendship. His generosity ensured that her vision of sharing her passion for plants and learning was realised.

Polly Hill Arboretum website: