Archive for August, 2013

Farewell to the weeping beech trees at Lodge Gates

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Friday 23rd August 2013

You may have noticed there are two large trees at the edge of the arboretum that overhang the A433 road heading towards Tetbury.  These are weeping beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’) that stand at the end of Jackson Avenue on either side of the Lodge Gates, opposite the main entrance to Westonbirt School.  We do not have a record of the year they were planted, but it is noted in the Jackson Catalogue of Westonbirt Trees and Shrubs that they were young trees back in 1927, and “making good growth” at about 25 foot in height.

Weeping Beech
As they grew bigger and at some point more recently, both trees were given additional support by way of a cable brace system attached to larger specimens to the rear.  All cable braces require annual inspection, and renewal if needed, as part of our Tree Safety Management programme, as well the fact that they are in Zone 1 (high usage area) with a potential high ‘target’ value (road users could get hurt).
We do not like to compromise the shape and form of trees unnecessarily, but due to their size and close proximity to a busy road, the trees were pruned back from the highway in October 2002, and again in March 2004, with the appropriate temporary traffic management systems in place.  Unfortunately, here we have a case of the right trees in the wrong place, but thankfully tree work of this nature is very rare at Westonbirt because we usually have the space required to grow wonderful specimens as nature intended.

Weeping Beech
We have now had cause to carry out a thorough visual tree assessment, as sadly tree number 02-0123 lost a large branch at the end of June, which snapped and fell across the A433 without any sign of warning.  I am pleased to report that no-one was hurt or property damaged.  The tree management team have concluded for a number of reasons, that these trees will have to be felled soon, although this decision has mainly been taken because the structural integrity of the damaged tree has been compromised.  As they were very much planted as a pair in the landscape, the undamaged tree will also need to be felled.
Whilst unnecessary removal or disfigurement should always be avoided, it is fair to say that no tree is entirely safe and so decisions must be based on recognisable hazards.  Legally we have a ‘duty of care’ to people who enter our land or the vicinity, and in the case of trees, vicinity includes the potential falling range of boundary trees.  Where a tree is hazardous because of decay or structural weakness and shows external signs of being in such a condition, the occupier of the land on which it stands is normally liable under UK law for any personal injury of other damage it causes by breaking or falling.
There are other considerations, such as a degree of root damage, the ongoing need for regular crown reduction and thinning, the weight of the canopy and angle at which the trees lean over the road, and of course the likelihood of further branches falling from either tree.
We do not plan to replace these trees immediately, to make sure we avoid similar problems in the future.
The work will result in the temporary closure of the road to allow operations to take place safely, and so we apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.
Mark Ballard

600 metres marked out…it must be Treefest!

Friday, August 16th, 2013

By Julie McKellar, Events Co-ordinator

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost 12 months since Treefest last August and now we are only one week away from this year’s festival!  

We have been busy marking out the Downs over the last 3 days, totalling just over 600m and getting it ready for when the exhibitors arrive next Friday to set up.  If your driving past next Monday (19th) look out for our lovely festival flags out on the roadside!

Crowds at Treefest

This year we have 111 exhibitors booked in, and excitingly 38 new exhibitors joining us.  Our regular exhibitors have been coming to us for years and tell us that this is their favourite event of the year.  A big thank you to them for their continuous support.

Axe Men

Another exciting bit of news is that we have the Axe Men of Mid Wales joining Treefest 2013 and will be giving us two arena demonstrations each day.  They are really popular so we are thrilled to have them at the festival this year!

Love Food Festival Logo

On the food front we have Love food Festival helping us to fill the Foodhall with delicious local producers and we have some fantastic things in store for you.   Olives, Cheese, Fudge, Wine, Organic Meat, Cider, Sauces, Chutneys, Chocolate, Cake, and that is just some of what’s on offer this year!  Come and see the wonderful produce for yourself!

Exotic Tagine

We also have some new caterers this year!  MDB Catering are back with their Hog Roast and we have baked potatoes, baguettes, Exotic Tagine, Big Pan Paella, Bath Organic Farm, Churros Garcia, Winstones Ice-Cream and Stroud Brewery. There is something for everybody!

For more information on all the things happening at Treefest 2013 please visit our website.

Westonbirt’s Welcome Building: the early stages…

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Sophie Nash is Project Officer for the Westonbirt Project. She organises the logistics of the project, working with architects and project managers for various elements to deliver the works.

 Our new car park is almost complete as we start the new Welcome Building!

Cycle racks

Cycle racks

The finishing touches to the car park are underway! Here is a photo of the new bicycle racks with the Westonbirt logo in the centre, they are designed for adult and child bicycles.


White lining

The final white (yellow in this instance) lining is almost complete. This picture shows the row of disabled parking spaces with the new resin bound gravel path which will lead to the coach park at one end and the new Welcome Building from the other.


View  from Welcome Building to new car park

 Above is a view from the new Welcome Building site leading back to the new car park. This part of the car park is almost complete except for the new trees which arrive in September and the new signage.

Welcome Building site before set up

Above is the site for the Welcome Building before contractors Speller Metcalfe arrived to start the works.

Construction staff on site

The diggers are in and construction staff on site! The groundworks are now well underway for the Welcome Building. The main entrance road has been closed off as it is being dug up and traffic has been diverted around the site.

Contractors office

The contractors site office and welfare cabins have arrived!

Welcome Building layout

The Welcome Building footprint and layout has been marked out. In this picture you can just about make out the red lines which show the toilets and mobility scooter store.

 Welcome Building markings

In this photo of the footprint you can see two crosses marking the two front timber columns which are going to be at the front of the entrance foyer. To the left of these crosses is the ticketing area and the information centre.

For more details about the Westonbirt Project, visit

Local and live at Treefest, by Jon Ponting, 4014 Project.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

If you’re looking for local acts, this is the festival for you! Westonbirt Arboretum works with The 4014 Project to bring music to Treefest because of their unrivalled knowledge of the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire music scene.

Treefest music 2012

Out of the 29 acts featuring at Treefest in 2013, 11 are from Gloucestershire, 10 from Swindon and Wiltshire, and 4 from Bristol and Somerset.

Our evening headliners this year are the award winning Roving Crows and up-and-coming Swindon-based trad/folk/rock four piece Missin’ Rosie.

Our lunchtime headliners this year are the most dapper fellows of foot-stomping folk, Frankie the Gambler, and the well-respected Devon songstress, Nicky Swann.

We’ve got some amazing acts playing this year, including:

·         The Roving Crows – winners of Best Celtic Rock Band and Best Fiddle Player at the Irish Music Awards 2011

·         Pete Taylor – Dursley based songwriter who is a master of the loopstation, meaning he can beatbox, play lead and backing guitar, plus several harmonies, and loop them live to make a fluid song

·         Ben Maggs – songwriter from Cirencester… “Let’s get this right. If I heard that being played in the top 10 it wouldn’t be a surprise. Absolutely fantastic.” Paul Moss (BBC Introducing) Re: ‘Home, My Love’ played on BBC Introducing – June 2012

·         Ethemia (Berny Poulton and Michaela Mott) acoustic duo from Gloucestershire who’ve been busy playing across the country in the last year, making friends and gaining fans wherever they go. Winners of the Best Hugs award by Swindon 105.5’s The Late Show!

·         Lonely Tourist – A Bristol based Glaswegian who’s original tunes have been heard on BBC 6Music on more than one occasion! Very happy that he’s making a return to our festival.

As well as the music we’ve got singing, songwriting and drumming workshops planned for the weekend.

Here’s the full 2013 Treefest live music line-up: Click on the artists for more information.

Downs restoration: strewing, scythes and sickles.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Sophie Nash is Project Officer for the Westonbirt Project. She organises the logistics of the project, working with architects and project managers for various elements to deliver the works.

We have recently done a trial run of how we will carry out our downs restoration, turning the existing car park into Grade I Registered downland. For this we will be using a green hay strewing method which uses our local seed bank source and then it is spread in areas where we want to regenerate our existing flora.

Volunteers doing a species survey

The week before the hay was cut, some of our volunteers carried out a survey to identify which species were in flower, seed, bud and which had gone over.

Scythes and Sickles

Our volunteers used a variety of tools to cut the sward from the donor site using traditional scythes and sickles.

Gathering the sward with grass rakes to take to the receiver site.

Gathering the sward with grass rakes to take to the receiver site.

The receiver site in the new car park before strewing.

The receiver site in the new car park before strewing.

Volunteers strewing the receiver site.

Volunteers strewing the receiver site.

The receiver site with all strewing complete!

The receiver site with all strewing complete!

We will be monitoring this area for growth and will be carrying out the same process next summer on the existing car park.

For more details about the Westonbirt Project, visit