I had the great opportunity to go on an team building exercise recently. I have worked in the online industry a very long time, which can often be hectic and means being glued to the desk – so it was a great breath of fresh air to literally get some work done in the great outdoors.
Here comes the link to the fresh air
Basically we had a day out at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, near Tetbury in Gloucestershire. To all of those who don’t know it – it is a place where a collection of trees are kept and grown. But more relevant to our trip was the fact that we were there to enjoy the arboretum as it moves from summer into autumn and capturing the beauty of this spectacular season. Autumn being a great and colourful time.
I never really saw trees in the way I do now, after having visited the arboretum and would highly recommend it. Now I see trees as a thing of beauty.
Now for some history
The arboretum was established in 1829 by Robert Stayner Holford and was later extended by his son George Lindsay Holford. George, had a passion for gardens and orchids and devoted much of his time to his property at Westonbirt. The Times made the following comment which I particularly like, as it captures the essence of the place beautifully.
“He was indeed, one of the most successful amateur gardeners of the time, and though famous as a grower of orchids, amaryllids and Javanese rhododendrons, his garden and estate show a wide catholicity of taste. The arrangement of the many rare and exotic trees there and the skilful use of evergreen species as background and to provide the shelter so needful in a cold district like the Cotswolds, have rarely been equalled; there is no crowding of the trees; each is able to show its true form and all have been well cared for. On few estates has the autumnal colouring of deciduous trees been so cleverly used by harmony and contrast, as, for instance, in the planting of Norway maples and glaucous Atlantic cedars”.
The arboretum comprises some 18,000 trees and shrubs, over an area of approximately 600 acres numbered by the stakes and not the spooky kind (See the link to Halloween :-). It has 17 miles (27 km) of marked paths providing access to a wide variety of rare plants.
What I learnt
Plant propagation is the process of creating new plants from a variety of seeds, cuttings, grafting and plant parts.
As many as 300 plants a year could be propagated by their seed. Some trees can stay in quarantine for 6 months up to a year.
Also that plants or seeds are sourced from different areas, including Chilli, Morocco, Vietnam and America. So gaps are looked at then sourced accordingly. So for example there are less species of Cedar of Lebanon and therefore these were sourced and found.
The plants are quarantined and grown in special pots that are black with holes, which need lots of water, as the holes tend to dry them out.
The arboretum are carrying out a climate experiment with several countries around the World whereby trees are planted in the same spot and/or land across different countries to see the different effects of climate change.
By selecting trees from milder climates, specialists hope to identify suitable substitutes which are able to withstand extreme weather and help to protect the long-term future of Westonbirt’s world-famous autumn colour – awesome.
Back to the day
The day was both fun and informative. The Westonbirt arboretum is a great place to go during the autumn months, when the trees are in their full bloom. The various colours make for such a breath taking background and injects the colour back into life.
It was therefore nice to work together, bond as a team and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time.
Walking and other activities
There are many walks that can be taken and not exclusive for just keen walkers. Bring your family and the family pet (however the old part is restricted to dogs). For the children there is a nicely built wooden climbing frame. There is also a restaurant that offers both hot and cold food as well as ice cream straight from the farm, yum!
It’s well worth a visit.