Archive for April, 2010

Sharing the Westonbirt’s Projects plans by Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The Westonbirt Project is progressing at an exciting rate and letting people know about what we hope to provide for visitors, staff and the local community is vital for gaining, and keeping, support for the project.

For the local community, our aim is to keep our neighbours well informed about building developments and the planning proposals we will be submitting.

Our recent local community evening attracted people from Westonbirt Village, Tetbury and Malmesbury (and several villages in-between).

The turn out was good (despite competing with the first ever televised election leaders’ debate for our audience), and the Westonbirt Project team, including representatives from the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and Westonbirt School made their way around the visitors to discuss the plans on show and answer questions.

Feedback was generally positive and some really important, and sometimes difficult, questions were raised and answered by the team. Feedback was encouraged and many attendees submitted comments cards.

Perhaps the most encouraging comment: “A great way to bring Westonbirt into the 21st Century whilst retaining original ideas”. This to me sums up perfectly the aims of the project; to enhance visitor experience, provide new learning opportunities and connect people with the collection in new ways without compromising the history, heritage and fundamental principles of Westonbirt.

FAQs raised from the evening and from visitors using the feedback boxes at the onsite exhibition by Maples restaurant will be displayed on the pages of soon for all to see.

Spring photography and a volcanic ash cloud, by Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Of all the possible reasons for Westonbirt’s new spring photography shoot to be hampered, an extremely rare – erupt once every 200 years – Icelandic volcano was not one of our considerations.
As I, our photographer for the day and a Forestry Commission designer turned up at 6am to catch the sunrise, we wondered what effect the news that a huge volcanic ash cloud was covering the UK would have on our photography. Would the cloud hinder the streaming sunlight we had wished for when we’d planned our early morning spring colour shoot?
Our aim was to get striking shots of the pink, red and cream colours of the magnolias, camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons which cover the Old Arboretum in spring.
Luckily, the natural phenomenon seemed to just be ruining the plans of holiday makers and travel companies. After a slightly murky start (much down to the weather rather than the ash we guessed), the sun shone and we were able to capture the famous colours which draw people to the National Arboretum at this time of year.
We found brilliant examples of magnolias and camellias on Main Drive and Loop Walk, which resulted in some beautiful close up shots for the media, future leaflets and guides for our visitors. The cherry blossom collection in Silk Wood also provided us with some subtle creams and pinks.
As many people will tell you, flowering has been late across the country due to the harsh winter, but it is great to see our national collection now awakening. Capturing the colours and sense of excitement that spring is finally here is important to us, as photography a great way to show visitors what a wonderful place Westonbirt is to visit.
Over the next few months we’ll use this photography on the websites, on marketing material and will send the pictures out to journalists across the country writing about the arboretum. After a cold and slightly uncertain start, the spring shoot was indeed a day well spent.

A Project Update by Sophie Nash

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
We have all been very busy lately with a big push to get the drawings and our proposals finalised before we submit our planning application in May.

I have been busy preparing the drawings, drinks and presentation for the community evening. The drawings are looking lovely, particularly some of the visuals which have been created although their arrival this week has been quite stressful and at one point yesterday I was contemplating driving up to Birmingham to collect them to ensure I had a good nights sleep!

Miranda has just had a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund to talk about our proposals and how we are doing. Feedback received was positive and has highlighted areas which we need to work a bit more on so we will be busy working on this side of the project during the summer once we have submitted the planning application.



Propagation Update by Penny Jones

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


As well as propagating trees and shrubs for the Westonbirt collection, I am also working with two other organisations on conservation projects, namely Natural England and Plantlife.
The Plantlife project is locally based and its aim is to replant the limestone hills that form part of the beautiful Stroud valleys with our native juniper, Juniperus communis such places like Juniper Hill at Edgeworth where the existing plants are in decline and in some cases collapsed. There is little or no natural regeneration due to overgrazing and competition from other more vigorous species.

Over the last week I have received several batches of juniper trimmings to prepare for propagation, so far we have completed 250 cuttings and 12 seed batches. The cuttings should root within 8-12 weeks but the seed will take a little longer as natural germination will need a period of two winters. Junipers are slow-growing so it will take two to three years before the plants are ready to be replanted on the Stroud valley hillsides.

In addition to physically preparing the cuttings and seed we have to record the field data and provenance of the parent plants e.g. Country of Origin, Geographical Area, Location, Longitude, Latitude, Altitude,, Sex, Age Structure, Condition , Habitat description and method of propagation and any treatments given. Plenty to do !