Archive for the ‘Director's comment’ Category

Treefest: our new-look festival, by Simon Toomer, Director

Friday, August 19th, 2011

I hope you enjoy our new-look festival this year. Treefest is the latest incarnation of an event the Forestry Commission has been running at Westonbirt for many years. The aim has always been to appeal to everyone interested in trees and their uses and this year’s event is more diverse than ever. Features such as medieval longbow archery, live music and camping will give Treefest a fresh new feel while the traditional focus of woodworking and crafts remains as strong as ever.
green woodworking_Rob Cousins
This year, we also have an exciting opportunity to celebrate the UN International Year of Forests. How we all use wood and other forest products in our everyday lives can have a major influence on the wellbeing of the world’s trees and forest ecosystems and here at Westonbirt we want to help people understand that relationship. Throughout the weekend, the Great Oak Hall will become an interactive learning centre where children and adults alike can learn while having fun.
Treefest Childrens learning activities_FC picture library (1)
After 17 years as our main event partner, the charity Tree Aid has decided the time has come to go its separate way and we wish them well in their important work in Africa. The big tree carving that has proved a popular part of previous years’ events will continue at Treefest, on a smaller scale but with the same incredible skill and talent.

Many thanks for your continuing support for Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.

The party’s over for the leaf-peepers by Simon Toomer, Arboretum Director

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Phew, it’s all over and what an autumn it’s been! The evidence of a long and glorious leaf display now lies on the ground like the spent party poppers after a wild party. The clear-up is left to the earthworms while the trees themselves get a well-earned rest until the show begins again in the spring. The 100,000 or so colour pilgrims have gone too leaving only muddy footprints and the odd woolly glove left helpfully on a low branch for the unlikely return of its owner. Among the throng were the usual photographers who left with not just memories of a great day out but their bounty of countless gigabytes-worth of gorgeous Japanese maples, recorded for posterity or to adorn calendars and e-pages across the World Wide Web. In the USA they call it leaf-peeping while in Japan this annual celebration of autumnal leaf colour goes by the name of Momijigari. But here at Westonbirt in the heart of the Cotswolds we hold our own British version, albeit with a lot of trees ‘borrowed’ from all over the temperate world.

As with every year, predictions about the likely quality of autumn colour were freely given and then selectively forgotten when confounded by what turned out to be one of the best displays for many years. The usual questions are asked about what climatic conditions conspire to conjure-up the kind of colour spectacular we saw this year. Is it the warm summer days that helped to build high sugar levels in the leaves or the cold autumn nights that slow the re-absorption of colour-producing chemicals? Whatever the answer, this fantastic demonstration of trees’ adaptation to the Earths rotation provides a wonderful way for modern urban humans to mark the turning of the seasons and bond with nature.