Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

An autumn walk with...

Posted: November 5, 2013 at 20:08 pm Author: Mark Ballard

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 Wood

MaplesAcer 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.

Maple Loop

Larix x eurolepisCarpinus betulus

Photo one: this central vista is a key landscape component of the recently designed Maple Loop, and will become more prominent as plants develop and grow. In photo two: Deciduous hybrid larch trees (Larix x eurolepis) provide a vital protective over-storey here, but can be stunning in their own right. 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...