'Garden' Visit: Westonbirt Arboretum

Many thanks to those of you who were so complimentary about the autumnal scene outside my back window yesterday. However, it's a mere trifle compared to the trip NAH and I made to Westonbirt Arboretum a couple of days ago. Our timing was perfect: blue skies and plenty of sunshine allowed the trees to show off at their best. I took loads of photos, but I feel nothing comes close to the atmosphere of the above shot. No doubt the best of the rest will find their way over to Sign of the Times over the next few days. In the meantime, you can have a quick tour via the Westonbirt website if you look here.

After a picnic in the warm sunshine, we started our walk in Silk Wood as we rarely go there. We were too late for the spindles' display (various deciduous Euonymus species, just their bright orange seeds were left), but timed it just right for the Acers. Silk Wood houses the national collection of maples, so I wandered around happily exclaiming over the richness of their leaf colour and trying to find the best views I could. Even NAH was impressed by the display. We also found a katsura tree which was just beginning to release its delicious candyfloss-like scent from its leaves: the light overnight frosts we've been having recently have helped and the smell was most noticeable when I bent my head towards the fallen leaves. Yum.

We also walked over to the Old Arboretum because I wanted to see the Acer Glade. This has featured on the news recently as scientists are worried that the effects of climate change will affect these trees. Sadly we didn't see them at work, but everyone was stopping in amazement when they saw the vine (Vitis coignetiae) pictured on the left. That leaf is the size of my head and thousands of them were completely clothing a stand of extremely tall trees. Being a temporary feature it didn't have a label (unlike everything else), so I made a point of finding out. This proved to be a little tricky but eventually a more helpful volunteer found one of the Forestry Commission staff who could tell me. Apparently they'd only spotted it a few days before and had had quite a long search to track down the ID themselves.

It was a satisfying ending to a grand afternoon. If you're planning on visiting Westonbirt this autumn, you must go soon as the trees are at their peak. NB to RHS members: your free entry doesn't apply during October, so you'll have to cough up the £8 entry fee like everyone else. It's worth every penny.

NB Dave at The Home Garden is hosting the Fall Colour Project again this year. You might like to visit to get your fill of autumnal hues from all over the northern hemisphere :)


  1. Wonderful pictures VP - what a great time to go and visit! I believe the rather lovely 19th-century gardens of Westonbirt School opposite (Arboretum and school used to be owned by the same Victorian plant collector) are opening for a restoration fundraiser in the last weeks of October so anyone who's going that direction should pop in over the road, too :D

  2. Your first pictures is fantastic, it really creates an atmospher and makes me wish to visit. I see there is a new book on Westonbirt out, I'm sure this picture is as good as any in the book. I have never been to Westonbirt, I did get to Batsford arboretum last year which was lovely but not on the scale of Westonbirt.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  3. Must be a marvelous place to visit and what perfect timing on your behalf VP. I see that that the Friends of Westonbirt Aboretum have an 'Autumn Colour Watch' section on their website, which they will apparently be updating as the season goes on. I will be a regular visitor :)

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  5. That looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for the tip! :)

  6. Perhaps one of the best places on Earth - especially at this time of year. Great cafe too.

  7. stunning photo! oaks & maples are my favorites.

  8. Hi everyone - so glad you like the pictures. This one's going to stay for a couple of days because my PC's screen has just died. NAH's rigged me up with the spare laptop, but I can't get to my pictures from there.

    Time to get cracking with the autumn digging methinks...

    CG - yes and there's a fungus foray on 31st October from 2-4pm. Westonbirt has also started a project to reconnect the arboretum with the school buildings, so that the landscape that Holford made (the guy who started it all off) is whole again. The links I put in my post will also take you to lots of historical info if anyone's interested.

    Sylvia - you flatterer! I bet the book's photos will beat mine into a tiny little cocked hat :)

    Anna - it's well worth keeping an eye on things. I must also get in touch with my frined J - she's been researching the wild flowers at Westonbirt and I seem to remember she's found some rarities there.

    Pollicino - I've been over to yours before. Nice blog, but it's more in keeping with my photography blog.

    Nutty Gnome - it's a great place. Spring is good too when all the magnolias are in flower, then there's the festival of the tree in August, the enchanted wood at Christmas...

    Petoskystone - thanks :)

  9. Hermes - sorry to have left you out :(

    This was the first time I'd been there after the new cafe etc. was built. I love the sedum roof on the restaurant!

  10. Oh, I'd so love to get to see those colours at Westonbirt, but am just too busy at home. Thanks for your lovely pix and I shall savour them! Charlotte

  11. Looks like a beautiful spot, and October must be the perfect time to visit with the changing colors.

  12. VP,

    That first photo looks like it should be in a travel brochure. It's just a perfect fall photo. I would love to see more of the Arboretum. Thanks for joining in the Fall Color Project!
    (post will be up Monday 7:30 AM (U.S. Central Time))

  13. Charlotte - glad you could visit Westonbirt virtually anyway. Hope your real life is going well.

    Pam - welcome! It's a wonderful place at this time of the year

    Dave - glad you like it. It was good to be able to offer you a different view for this year's Fall Color Project :)

    More to come once I can get to my pictures on my PC again...

  14. VP, I had no idea of the candyfloss scent of katsura leaves, but as this is the second time today that I've come across this point must obviously head over to my nearest katsura and start sniffing. Thanks for the tip (and the beautiful images).

  15. That's a great picture! I found my way here via Dave's Fall Color Project, and I'm glad I stopped in. I'd like to know what kind of tree that is please.

  16. Your lead photo is stunning. Do you know what tree that is? I love the gentle shape of the main trunk and branches and together with the autumn colour, it is a definite contender for the new planting at Bag End when we get the bottom of the garden cleared.

  17. Helen - I hope you had a good sniff! Some people describe it as toffe or toffee apple instead.

    TC - welcome! Sorry for the delay with the ID, but computer problems meant I couldn't get at the photo of the tree label I had on file. It's an Acer palmatum s. matsumarae

    Bilbowaggins - hello and what a great name :) I've just added the ID in response to TC's enquiry. It's a stunner isn't it and someone's sent in a very similar photo to the BBC to grace our local weather forecast!

  18. Hi VP, many thanks for the tree ID, and for popping over to Bag End. Hope you enjoyed the squirrels and the other visitors who come to feast at the Bag End Buffet.

    Apologies for any delay are forbidden - you have no idea how long it takes me to get to reply to some messages {smile}

  19. What a beautiful arboretum! I love that opening shot - perfect light, color and composition.

  20. Hello, I have a question!

    We're going to go to Westonbirt tomorrow, but were concerned at the £5 car parking. Do you know of anywhere nearby where we can park and walk in? Is that at all possible?

    Thanks! Alice aka Frolicking Foodie

  21. Miss Bliss - there isn't £5 parking it's free, but it's £8 each to get in irrespective of whether you walk there or arrive by car.

    The £5 car park charge is during December daytime only (9am-4pm), but admission is free during those times.

    Charges vary widely depending on the time of year or if there's a special event on. £8 is the maximum chargeable during 2009. Have a look at the Westonbirt website (there's a link from my post) if you need further information.

  22. Sarah - thank you. Luckily we chose the perfect day to go there.

  23. BilboWaggins - I loved my visit, but I hope those pesky grey squirrels are driven out before they harm your beautiful red ones...


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