Archive for January, 2010

The Return of the Winter Season by Mark Ballard, Superintendent

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Of course, people know about Westonbirt in the autumn and spring, they may even spend long summer days relaxing in the shade beneath some of our majestic trees. It has been a real treat though to see the return of the winter season this year. The Arboretum is looking just like one of those picturesque scenes from a Christmas card at the moment, after the recent cold snap.

The journey here can take a little longer than usual and demand a little more concentration, but once we arrive the view is simply stunning. It is a privilege to work here when the grounds have been dusted with snow. Fortunately we have not suffered any fallen trees or broken branches, I like to think this is because we have a well-managed collection. The Tree Team has shaken the snow from our new plantings, as it can be too heavy for these youngsters and weigh them down. Otherwise plant health care and grounds maintenance carry on regardless, there are always plenty of jobs to do at a National Arboretum.
I would encourage anyone to visit now and experience this winter wonderland for themselves just check the website before setting off, as we have had to close on a couple of days.

A True Winter Wonderland by Miranda Winram

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

 I know that Ros (our webmeister) won’t be around to upload this blog until after the New Year, but its Christmas Eve and I’ve a choice between a) Finally forcing myself to do 3 months worth of filing, b) Getting to grips with a new financial management system or c) Writing my next blog.  Unsurprisingly c) has just won.

 This has been the most magical of all possible first Christmases at Westonbirt. Forget all the plastic ‘Winter Wonderland’ experiences out there, forget even (dare I say it…) the very lovely Enchanted Christmas here, the snow has turned Westonbirt into the Real Thing. I’ve been arriving at my desk later and later every morning, as I’ve been held up, entranced, along crisp rides framed with delicate silhouettes and the occasional soft swoosh of powder settling. The ground has crunched happily underfoot, and I’ve appreciated the incredibly strange and stunning patterns that branches and trunks have made against the ground or the sky. The specialness of our trees, their planting and their structures really shouts out when the world is a black and white negative.

 And best of all, there’s been no-one else around. I think Westonbirt is more beautiful in the snow than at the height of its autumn colour, but it seems to be the best kept secret around.

 It’s been a challenging first few months, but to come to work here, for the last week, has made it all worth while. Not a bad way to close 2009.