Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

A season spectacular…by Emily Pryor, Marketing Support Officer.

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Well what an autumn it’s been. We were watching the days go by in early October, expecting an explosion, but it kept us hanging on (and still is just by its fingertips).

There’s no doubt there were lots of rumblings about what we should expect this autumn, with mast year being at the forefront of the media, but for my first autumn at Westonbirt for a few years, it was an eye opener.

Thanks to the autumn blog here at Westonbirt, most of the office have managed to get out and enjoy our beautiful trees and landscape, believe it or not, some of us can’t always manage it, even if it’s outside our door!

We have had thoughts from all across the building about what has been best to catch, what’s come and gone, and what’s on its way in.  But nevertheless, we have all enjoyed autumn in our own personal way, just as you probably have.

It just reminds you what a beautiful season it is, yes, the weather hasn’t always been our friend, but those few precious gloriously sunny days have been a spectacle I would challenge you to find anywhere else.

I personally can’t think of any better way to spend my day than wrapping up warm for an autumnal stroll and kick around in the leaves and a nice sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of sponge for afters.  I know those things are with us all year round, but in autumn it’s a different experience all together.

We owe big thanks to the maples for again, putting on a show that no one could have imagined. It was like a little slice of heaven in Acer Glade and Maple Loop, which I’m sure made jaws drop on people of all ages.

We also owe much gratitude to you, our visitors. For not only coming to enjoy something that our tree team work so hard on, year on year looking after, but also for your involvement. All in different ways, whether it was a family day out and trying out the seasonal trail, a photo posted to our Facebook page, a love declared for our trees on Twitter or a chat with our volunteers about it at the Great Oak Hall. You all play your part in making the autumn season a spectacular one, just as much as our trees.

An autumn walk with…Dan Crowley, Dendrologist

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

So once again I journeyed into the Old Arboretum with the camera to show some more of our autumn goodness here at Westonbirt and there still plenty of it, I can assure you of that!!

I started by heading for one of my favourites, which I am sure many of us have been keeping a close eye on, Acer griseum, the paper bark maple. From China and another Ernest Wilson introduction, it colours slightly later and our oldest specimens (and safe to say among the earliest plantings in this country) are just beginning to colour up nicely.

Our round-headed example at the west end of Mitchell Drive (left photo) is well on the way!

 Acer griseum   Acer griseum - Lodge Gates

While the taller specimen at close to Lodge Gates (right photo) has plenty still to go. There is also a younger specimen along Mitchell Drive in between these two – another worth visiting! And once the leaves are gone, the bark really takes over as its stand out feature – what a tree!!

Moving on, and set back from Loop Walk close to Morley Ride, the bright red fruits of Sorbus alnifolia are prominent against the dark back drop of the common yew, Taxus baccata.

Sorbus alnifolia

With its foliage long since gone for the year, it is only the fruit of this S. alnifolia remaining to provide seasonal interest. Seek it out before the birds do!!

Further round Loop Walk is a fine example of Acer pennsylvanicum.

Acer pennsylvanicum

Turning a particularly nice shade of yellow, the leaves were falling as I took this photo (not that you can tell!), so this fine display will not be with us for too much longer for this year. Interestingly, while there are around 20 species of snake bark maple, this is the only one native to North America, the others being Asian representatives this important genus.

Staying with plants of Asian origin is Photinia villosa. Not uncommon, this is known to be a later one to colour in autumn and is certainly doing its thing with us just now! Aside from the fine foliage colour, the fruits are also looking good. Like those of Sorbus alnifolia they are shining a bright red – yet another winner in the Rose family! This individual is growing adjacent to Loop Walk close to the end of Morley Ride, though there are a number of others also looking good just now elsewhere on site, like much else – but don’t take my word for it!! 

Back to maples, but only because it’s worth it, we have Acer palmatum subsp. palmatum.

Acer palmatum subsp. Palmatum

This subspecies is known for its smaller leaves that are held for longer and colour later. True to form, this mature specimen on Pool Avenue is doing just that. Enjoy.

Not far away, in Colour Circle, this example of Taxodium distichum  is really coming to the fore right about now.

Taxodium distichum

Colouring something of a dark peach, this is another North American favourite. Native to the south eastern states and known as bald, or swamp cypress, it is known for its ‘knees’ when growing in particularly damp areas. Whilst not apparent with us here, its fantastic autumn colour certainly is!

Just across Pool Avenue is this stand of dawn redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides.

Metasequioa glyptostroboides

Like the swamp cypress, it is a species of deciduous conifer and both are members of the Cypress family, the Cupressaceae. Endangered in the wild, the dawn redwood was discovered in 1941, having long been thought extinct, and introduced to the U.K in 1949. Our oldest specimen (Growing on Specimen Avenue) was planted in 1953 though this group is younger, with the youngest trees planted in 1991.

Before heading out of the Old Arboretum, I visited a plant I observe on most days heading out into the collection on this side of the valley. Growing close to the bottom of Savill Glade and different from all that has been mentioned in our series of autumn blogs (so far!), Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ is one that I am highlighting for its flowers. 

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Pale pink and pleasantly scented, these emerge from October onwards and are largely frost-resistant – most welcome as we move out of autumn and into winter. With more than a hint of autumn colour and one of a fantastic genus of (mainly!) shrubs, this is definitely one for the small garden!

Moving into Silk Wood then, and into Sand Earth we have the Japanese Malus tchonoskii.

Malus tchonoskii Malus tchonoskii.

A recent planting with us in 2010, having been collected as seed in the wild by colleagues here at Westonbirt. This example has established well and is now fulfilling its potential as a great autumnal feature. Growing with a lovely conical habit, it looks set to perform a role for us for some time to come – definitely one to keep an eye on!

Back on to Willesley Drive and one that may be easily missed is Hamamelis virginiana.

Hamamelis virginian

From eastern North America, as the name suggests, it is not notable for its foliage at this time of year, but for its flowers. Flowering earlier than other representatives of the genus, its yellow flowers are also smaller than some, with a pleasant, but subtle scent.

Up to Maple Loop and this area is beginning to really sing! There is all the colour of the Acer palmatum cultivars and the larch (Larix sp.) are also performing admirably.

Acer palmatum cultivars and (Larix sp.)

Another genus of deciduous conifer, though this time a member of the Pinaceae, the pine family, larch are clearly more than just plantation trees, though this was their original purpose in this area. This part of the arboretum is becoming a real favourite and is only set to improve as the young plants continue to establish. Swamp cypress also feature here with these young plants, wild collected by our colleagues at Bedgebury Pinetum, looking good to become the overstorey of the future. Like many of our plants we hope they will perform multiple roles in the landscape, providing both structure and autumn colour.

Swamp cypress

A trip down The Link is always worthwhile and at the Broad Drive end grows a fine young example of Acer pycnanthum.

Acer pynathum

Yet another fantastic plant from Japan. Closely related to the red maple of North America, Acer rubrum, it differs in being both smaller in form and foliage. Whilst our specimens of A. rubrum are among the earliest to colour in autumn, A. pycnanthum tends to be later and is among so many of our trees looking good now. Don’t miss out!

An autumn walk with…Mark Ballard, Curator

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Well, we are at the heart of yet another exciting autumn at Westonbirt right now, and I have to say that although every year is different in some way, I am yet to be disappointed. It is impossible to predict which plants will shine and exactly when that will be each year, which together with the fact that every day is unique, makes for a lot of fun.

Today I ventured out into Silk Wood with my colleague Penny, our highly skilled Propagator. Our mission was to begin the process of finding suitable locations within the landscape for the next generation of young plants, which have all been carefully grown from seeds within our very own nursery. You are welcome to witness this impressive operation for yourself, as there is an interpretation area for visitors next door to the very pretty Keepers Cottage.

Just like everyone else, Penny and I took the opportunity to enjoy lots of fantastic autumnal colour on our travels, a real perk of the job. Unquestionably, the stars of the show at the moment are the many species and cultivars of maple, which can appear even more dazzling when it is overcast, especially with a dramatic sky full of fast moving clouds as a backdrop.

As always, it’s best to get out there and explore the collection for yourself, and don’t be afraid to wander far from the path, as you are sure to find some unexpected gems around each corner. Enjoy!

Nerine bowdenii Elaeagnus rhamnoidesCotinus coggygria

In photo one is the Nerine bowdenii. This late flowering plant is also known as Cornish lily, Cape flower or Guernsey lily. In the second photo, Elaeagnus rhamnoides sea buckthorn, (formerly Hippophae rhamnoides) is one of our important signature plants, with great foliage and fruit at the moment. The third photo is of Cotinus coggygria (Smoke bush) on Waste Drive which provides a nice variety.

Cotinus ‘Grace’ Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum' Penny Jones, Propagator

The first photo of this three is of Cotinus ‘Grace’ in the foreground with the yellow of Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree) in the background. The second showcases Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ (purple Japanese maple) in full glory near Broad Drive. Photo three is our well respected and talented Propagator, Penny, at work, inspecting maples up close!

Maple Loop, Silk WoodMaplesAcer palmatum ‘Shime-no-uchi’

Photo one: I think as Maple Loop continues to establish, it is looking more attractive every year that passes, and is certainly now a rival to the splendour of Acer Glade in the Old Arboretum. The sun highlighting the colours and shapes of Maple leaves in photo two. The last photo is of Acer palmatum ‘Shime-no-uchi’.  This attractive Japanese maple cultivar was planted in Maple Loop with other specimens in 2005 to mark 100 years of Rotary.

Larix x eurolepisMaple LoopCarpinus betulus

Photo one: Deciduous hybrid larch trees (Larix x eurolepis) provide a vital protective over-storey here, but can be stunning in their own right. In photo two: this central vista is a key landscape component of the recently designed Maple Loop, and will become more prominent as plants develop and grow. Photo three: Carpinus betulus – we shouldn’t forget that our native trees, such as these common hornbeams, can look just as good too.


An autumn walk with…Dan Crowley, Dendrologist

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

We thankfully appear to have missed the worst of any storm here at Westonbirt and although it is becoming particularly damp in some areas, autumn is very much still on! So yesterday afternoon I journeyed out into the Old Arboretum and I can now share with you some of the autumnal treats I came across on my travels.

I headed to Morley Ride first for something of a rarity, the simple leaved Sorbus keissleri. I have been keeping a close eye on the fruits of this plant as they have developed and they are looking pretty good to me! Native to China, it is one of many introduced by Gloucestershire’s own, the legend, Ernest Wilson, in 1907. Forming something of a large shrub with us, it is one that should perhaps be a little better known.

Sorbus keissleri

Staying with fruits, those of Virburnum dilatatum are also looking particularly good. In contrast with the (still) green foliage, they are worth seeking out on a group of plants out not far from Loop Walk near the bottom of Lime Avenue. Another species of Asian origin, though this time from Japan, it is one of many Virburnums of true horticultural value.

Virburnum dilatatum

Further around Loop Walk and close to the new 2050 glade (though on the other side of the path!) is a young example of a rare maple, Acer wuyuanense. As is apparent from the photo, the cessation of chlorophyll production unmasks other pigments present in the leaf providing us with a quite beautiful display. If this performance is anything to go by, this species could really be one to look out for in future years, as well as today!!

Acer wuyuanense

Another I am rather fond of is the purple fruited chokeberry Aronia prunifolia. A member of an underused genus, whether A. prunifolia be classed as a species in its own right or a hybrid between the red fruited chokeberry, A. arbutifolia, and the black fruited chokeberry A. melanocarpa remains a topic for discussion! Regardless, the purple fruit is an attractive feature long after the leaves have dropped, as they have now! An edible fruit, the common name alludes to it being one of the last to be taken by birds and not something more sinister, I am assured! Worth seeking out on Loop walk, this is another option for those with a small garden.

Aronia prunifolia

Back towards the one of the oldest parts of the Old Arboretum is a fine young example of Stewartia pseudocamellia. Stunning autumn foliage and fine bark are only two of its many attributes. This particular specimen is yet to show the latter but an older specimen close by certainly does!

Stewartia pseudocamellia

And finally for now, and not one that people immediately associate with autumn is the champion Magnolia sprengeri (you might know as diva) at the bottom of Savill Glade. The genus is rightfully renowned for its flowers in spring and summer but the fruit can be equally striking. As it was laden with flowers earlier in the year, it is now laden with fruit – come and see for yourselves!   

Magnolia sprengeri


An autumn walk with…Mark Ballard, Curator

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

An Australian colleague of mine has recently moved back down under, and before he departed I asked him what he would most miss about living in the UK.  Without hesitation he said it would definitely be our changing seasons, and that we were incredibly lucky to have four of them (he has either hot/dry or hot/wet).  Now we all like to moan about the weather from time to time, but upon reflection I have to say that I agree.  With this in mind and as life is after all, too short, I put on my boots, a raincoat, grabbed the camera and set off into the Old Arboretum on a rather dull day.

I am pleased to say I was joined along the way by many like-minded visitors: from a newly married couple with their wedding photographer; smiling people of all ages; to a helpful chap with a camera telling me “don’t bother taking a photograph of that little maple as you will not believe the colourful display in Acer Glade”.  He was right, Acer Glade is looking wonderful even with a grey sky overhead and perhaps the colours appeared even more vivid under these conditions.

So, as there are very few reasons not to take the plunge, I strongly recommend that you get out there and enjoy the exhilaration of the seasonal delights of Autumn, before it’s too late.  You will enjoy it as much as I did and I’m sure your pictures will almost certainly be better than mine too!

Acer Glade    Evergreen background
Left picture: A riot of colour as you enter Acer Glade. Right picture: The evergreen background has been designed to help show-off more ornate trees.

Japanese maple        Acer palmatum
Left picture: Vibrant red of a Japanese Maple. In the right photo, the Acer palmatum contrasts red and green to great affect.

Acer palmatum 'Dissectum'           Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree)

Left photo: Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’ in full cut-leaved glory. Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Tree) in the right photo is a particularly bright at the moment.

Stewartia   Juglans nigra (Black Walnut)
Left photo: This Stewartia not only has great winter bark, but fantastic leaf colour as well. In the right photo the Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) leaves appear to form an interesting geometric pattern.

Zelkova serrata (Keaki)  Fothergilla major (Witch Alder)
Left photo: this young Zelkova serrata (Keaki) will certainly be a star of the future. Right photo: One by one, different plants take their turn to shine, even this Fothergilla major (Witch Alder).

Mark Ballard

An autumn walk with… Dan Crowley, Dendrologist

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Well, the colours are progressing nicely here at Westonbirt and I have been out on more than a few mad dashes in the last few days capturing what I can and will highlight just a snippet of what has been catching my eye (and nose!).

Starting in Silk Wood and up Willesley Drive, glimpsing into Sand Earth is a fantastic view of a young Cercidiphyllum japonicum, the Katsura tree from Japan and China, really doing its thing. But hurry, this one has a tendency to lose its leaves at rather short notice!

Further along the marvellous scent of candy floss (or similar – you decide!) wafts its way down the path as you near a more a more mature example of this fantastic species!

Katsura  Katsura

Moving onto Broad Drive and to a group of Carya species on both sides of the path, with the foliage at slightly different stages of turning their characteristic butter yellow colour. If your lucky you might catch sight of the fruit of this species, which if you can get your nose up to, is well worth a good sniff! Again, I’ll let you decide what these smell like – everyone’s sense of smell is slightly different after all!! Let us know what you think!

Carya Carya

Heading down The Link and aswell as some of the maples, the North American birch species are starting to turn. Betula alleghaniensis and Betula lenta both turn a good yellow and the metallic bark of the former – a good identification characteristic used to differentiate between the two – looks just stunning caught in the autumnal sunlight, though I might leave this one to the real photographers to capture!

Betula alleghaniensis

Well, as I am sure everybody is aware, it is a great year for fruits! Three of my favourites this year belong to the genus Sorbus and can be seen along Palmer Ride. Close to the bottom of The Link are fine examples of Chinese species S. glabriuscula (40.0039), with white fruits, and those of S. olivacea (40.0238) showing a good pink – stunning!

S. glabriuscula S. olivacea

Heading down Palmer Ride towards Waste Drive, two examples of S. scalaris, another Chinese species, are absolutely laden with fruits, to the point that you almost wonder if the branches will succumb under the weight. This could all change once the birds come across them, though I am expecting the foliage to provide a good show slightly later on also. A great tree for the garden I would say!

S.scalaris   S.scalaris

Into the Old Arboretum and you won’t want to miss the purple(ish!) fruit of another member of the Rosaceae, Crataegus schraderiana, a hawthorn species native to areas in the south east of Europe and appreciative of the summer heat we enjoyed this year.

Crataegus schraderiana

I won’t say too much about Acer Glade other than it is well worth wandering through, as always!! But do take your time! Here and the adjacent Colour Circle are coming on nicely and at the entrance to the latter, a few flowers can still be seen on the late flowering seven son flower, Heptacodium miconioides. Another Chinese species, the flowers are pleasantly fragrant, and are worth a whiff!


Moving back round Loop Walk and the Enkianthus perulatus is also beginning to show some good colour. One of a genus in the Ericaceae more known for its bell-shaped flowers in spring, its autumn colour is also there to be appreciated!

Enkianthus perulatus

And finally for now, and as mentioned in Mark’s blog entry earlier this month, the Symplocos paniculata are really coming into their own now. An abundance of fruit on three plants growing side by side along Circular Drive are looking just stunning with their sapphire blue berries really standing out in the crowds. Just as well these may be around for a little while yet, as they (as with all else, I might add!) are well worth multiple visits for admiration!

Symplocos paniculuta

An autumn walk with. . . Simon Toomer, Director

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

I was lucky enough to be working over the weekend and took a couple of walks around the arboretum to ‘see what I could see’ and get a feel for the progression of autumn colour.  It’s still early days and I’d expect it to be another week or two before we see the main wave of colour arrive. Having said that, there are lots of early colouring species standing out from the green crowd and an array of fruits and fungi to look out for. Here are a few highlights from my walk starting with an early morning picture in Maple Loop to give you a feel for the overall colour.

Maple Loop

Not far inside Waste Gate close to the end of Palmer Ride, there’s a smallish tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) that always colours early and this year is no exception. The autumn leaves of this American species always display a variety of colours.

Nyssa sylvatica

At the northern end of Savill Glade I noticed the abundant fruits of Dipteronia sinensis. This relative of the maples has a fringe (rather than a pair of wings) that runs right round the ‘nut’ to aid dispersal.


On an old oak tree I spotted a large beefsteak fungus. The name is apt not just for the appearance (red and moist like prime beef) but also the edibility of this prized species.

beefsteak fungus

Also in the Old Arboretum I found a trio of Japanese species: Vitis coignetiae is an ornamental vine grown in many large gardens for its rich crimson turning leaves. I’ve seen it growing in the wild where it clambers over large trees and lights up the forest canopy in autumn. The rare snake-bark maple Acer morifolium is best known (not surprisingly) for its beautifully patterned bark but this tree close to Main Drive was putting on quite a leaf display. Zelkova serrata is known in Japan as keyaki but travels well and has become a popular street tree in many parts of the world. Its wood is highly prized for making furniture and the traditional Japanese taiko drums.

Vitis coignetiaeAcer morifoliumzelkova serrata

The fruits on the Japanese strawberry trees (Cornus kousa) are abundant this year and are just at the point of turning from pale green to red. They may be edible but don’t get excited as they’re not that tasty!

Cornus kousa

But finally, one fruit that is edible and really abundant this year is the sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) and it just so happens that the magazine of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum contains a recipe for sweet chestnut cake on page 55!

Sweet Chesnut

An autumn walk with . . . Mark Ballard, Curator

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Welcome to another exciting autumn at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum.  I say exciting, in that despite best efforts from the great and the good nobody can ever accurately predict what each autumn will be like or exactly when trees and shrubs will be at their flamboyant best.  However, the good news is that although every year is different in some way, in my experience nature never fails to deliver an amazing and colourful spectacle! 

This will be my 13th autumn of leaf peeping (as it is called in some parts of the world) at Westonbirt and early indications are that it is going to be a good one!

Today I took the opportunity to escape from my office to check on a few of our specimens in the Old Arboretum.  I thought I would share some of the early autumnal highlights that I spotted along the way. 

Maples will deservedly get lots of autumnal attention, and many here are already putting on a brilliant show, but my challenge to you is to seek them out for yourself. 

Instead, to wet your appetite, here are a few examples from my walk of what I consider to be some of our unsung autumnal heroes right now.

 Cercidiphyllum japonicum  Crataegus punctata

(Above: our champion Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) with a fabulous smell of candyfloss/caramel and will be an outstanding colour display, and a lovely hawthorn (Crataegus punctata) with its beautiful red fruits)

It is always interesting to see which plants will change colour first, as there are early birds and late starters every year, and the display usually stretches from September right through to November.

Disanthus cercidifolius Cladrastis kentukeaEuonymus alatus f. subtriflorus Symplocos paniculata 

(Above: The Disanthus cercidifolius is showing various colours, with the Cladrastis kentukea turning a butter yellow, with a bright Euonymus alatus f. subtriflorus really showing its colour in the Colour Circle and Symplocos paniculata – these bright fruit look fantastic as they ripen from October to December.)

It can be really good fun trying to spot the seasonal highlights, it may be a bright leaf, an interesting bark or an attractive fruit that catches your eye.  But with practice you can start to get your eye in and appreciate all the little details that make autumn a very special time of year.  Of course, things change every single day and so you will never witness the same view or scenery on another occasion, which is part of the charm of growing plants in any garden and also adds to the enjoyment of a particular moment.

Mahonia japonica 'Bealei' Taxus baccataLiriodendron tulipifera 'Variegata' Euonymus alatus

(Above: Contrasting colours on the Mahonia japonica ‘Bealei’, Taxus Baccata branches laden with ripe red yew berries and beautiful shape to the Liriodendron tulipifera ‘Variegata’ leaves, Euonymus alatus – this Winged Spindle stands out really well at the moment, especially against an evergreen backdrop.)

Morus rubra Euonymus oxyphyllusViburnum betulifolium Rhododendron schlippenbachii

(Above: This Morus rubra can be spotted on Morley Ride as well as the group of spindle trees (Euonymus oxyphyllus) at Pool Avenue and the Viburnum betulifolium in Victory Glade, picture 4 is a Rhododendron schlippenbachii – even some of our recent plantings want to a chance to show-off at this time of year, this is part of a new group for the future at Main Drive)

You’ll have to excuse the very limited photography skills,  I can assure you that everything certainly looks much better in the flesh.


Autumn: a dazzling array of colours, by Louise Bird, Head of Fundraising

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Whenever you tell people that you work at Westonbirt arboretum, they inevitably respond with things like “It must be a wonderful place to work” and “I bet it’s beautiful at the moment”. It certainly is both of those things, but the challenge is escaping from your desk (we have had almost 800 people join the Friends this October!) to get out there and really appreciate it.

A recent phonecall from one of our Friends, asking what the Autumn colour is like this year, made us realise that we should take advantage of being in this wonderful environment and prompted today’s lunchtime Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum team ‘field trip’ into the trees. 

A sign post amongst the autumn trees 
Armed with a map and a camera and on a very tight schedule we headed into the Silk Wood. We had only just gone through Skilling Gate when the resounding “Oooooh” called for our first photo stop at an Acer Palmatum v. heptalobum, or as we renamed it, the ‘Rhubarb and Custard Maple’.

Acer Palmatum v. heptalobum 
We carried on our journey, determined to reach Maple Loop before we had to get back to the office. Some were rather bemused by our mode of transport (a glorified golf buggy), others smiled and waved, and three boys and a dog raced us on our way – they were winning until one of the boys slipped and by the time he had dusted himself off (uninjured I might add) we were off into the distance undeterred from our mission.

The dazzling array of colours – greens, coppers, yellows and browns punctuated by fiery reds – kept us riveted and the camera flashing as we moved through Silk Wood.

A dazzling array of colours in Silk Wood 
We weren’t at all disappointed when we reached our destination and in fact, were a little surprised at just how peaceful it was, despite the number of visitors. Rotary Glade looked so amazing I’m not even going to try and describe it but will let the photo below do all the talking…

Rotary Glade 
Although, there were a couple of surprises, including a BBC film crew that had managed to get stuck in the mud…

BBC film crew stuck in the mud 
…and a magical circle of mushrooms!

Fungi circle Fungi
The journey back included a quick tree identification lesson on the difference between a beech tree and a hornbeam, an unexpected papparazzi shot of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum team and an interesting fact…the beautiful beech trees on the downland get their very tidy haircuts by the cattle that graze there.

Beeches on the downland 
Excursion complete, we headed back to the Great Oak Hall, feeling refreshed and re-inspired by our surroundings. We should definitely do it again some time!

Thanks to Bev Starkings from the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum membership team for taking the lovely photographs in this blog.

Useful links
Find out more about autumn at Westonbirt
Learn more about the work of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity…
Become a member of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and your kids will go free for a year. Join now…

Autumn leaf-art in the arboretum

Friday, October 26th, 2012

You may have read Simon Toomer’s autumn colour blog this week. As well as autumn colour on the trees, he wrote about the artwork created from fallen leaves that he had happened across in the arboretum. A group from Our Lady of the Rosary school, who visited earlier in the week, were responsible for the artwork and got in touch to share some more images of the work that the children created…

“We went to Westonbirt Arboretum today as part of a whole school trip. We had a fabulous time even though the weather was not brilliant. Our year 2 class had looked at the work of Sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, collected natural materials in the woods and made their own sculptures in the style of Andy Goldsworthy. We thought you would like to see some of their work (in case you have not spotted the sculptures in the woods.) I include just a few of our efforts -the children did this work all by themselves which we think is brilliant for such young children (majority aged just 6.) They were totally absorbed and could have spent much longer at your fabulous arboretum.

These are just a few pictures of the wonderful work the children did in such a short time.

Thank you for providing the backdrop to our art gallery.”
(Maureen Hinchcliffe, helper on Mrs Abernethy’s class trip)

Maybe this work has inspired you to make your own leaf-art? Remember to only use leaves that have fallen from the trees – if they are still attached to the tree then it still needs them or isn’t quite ready to let them go yet!

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