Autumn Colour Watch: our marvellous maples by Gina Mills, Marketing Support Officer

Autumn is a spectacular time of year at Westonbirt. This photo-packed blog will take you through the weekly highlights of whats looking good and where. Visit the Forestry Commission website for more information about what’s happening at Westonbirt during autumn.

This week, we’re looking specifically at our maples, from the signature National Japanese Maple Collection to the more unusual varieties that you’ll find throughout our 600 acres. These trees are probably the most famous in Westonbirt’s collection during autumn, attracting hundreds of visitors and photographers to enjoy their rich and varied colours.

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In Silk Wood, take a stroll up to Maple Loop and the National Japanese Maple Collection where, if you haven’t visited for a few weeks, you will really notice a difference in colour.

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Many of the Japanese maples have started to turn deep reds and the colour is much more pronounced than the early signs of autumn we reported a few weeks back.

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This week two of Westonbirt’s team will be travelling to collect seed from the wild in Japan. The seeds (fruit) of maple trees are known as samaras. Look closely at some of the seeds on these trees at the moment and they’ll remind you of the ‘helicopter’ sycamore seeds we all used to play with as children – they are in fact from the same family. The helicopter wings are designed to carry the seed far away from the parent trees.

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If you want to see some amazing seeds for yourself, you could head to the Old Arboretum to seek out the spectacular large moth-like seeds of the Nikko maple just off Main Drive – the leaves are not the usual palmate form you might expect, but the seeds certainly fit the winged template of other maples. By contrast the smaller, shiny red seeds of the selection of Acer palmatum trees as you head down Specimen Avenue are jewel bright. This group of three trees shows the great variety to be found in the autumn colour of our Acer palmatum trees.

Elsewhere in the Old Arboretum, what is really striking is the luminosity of the colours on show. A good starting point is Acer Glade, where bright red has now started to appear in amongst the trees that have not yet fully changed to their autumnal hues. Splashes of bright red can also be found on Holford Ride and near to Victory Glade.

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We’ll be back with another autumn colour watch blog next week. In the meantime we’d love to hear about your experiences of autumn at Westonbirt on our Facebook page, or see your images in the Gallery.

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