If you love nature and horticulture and are visiting the Cotswolds, you will want to make sure that Westonbirt Arboretum is on your itinerary. This National Arboretum is situated near the market town of Tetbury in Gloucestershire. The arboretum is probably the most famous in all of the UK, and was originally planted in the middle of the 19th century by Robert Stayner Holford. Following his death, it was passed onto his son, George Lindsay Holford, and then to the Earl of Morley, and finally to the Forestry Commission, which manages the beautiful park today.
At Westonbirt, you’ll be able to explore an elegantly cultivated landscape with more than 18,000 trees and shrubs, planted within 600 acres. There are 27 kilometers of paths to explore, taking visitors to the two main areas of the park, the Old Arboretum and Silk Wood. The Old Arboretum has a more cultivated look than the Silk Wood, which offers an experience closer to that of a wild forest. The Old Arboretum features the stately grounds which so many visitors to the Cotswolds associate with the English countryside. Many rare trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants can be found in the Old Arboretum and the Silk Wood, including some of the tallest or largest of their kind in the entire country. These special trees and plants are marked as “champions” with blue labels to identify them to visitors.
With so much to see and do, you could probably easily spend days in the Arboretum exploring and learning about trees and flowers. So if you are only going to be in the area a short while and you only have a few hours to spend in the Arboretum, you will definitely want to check the Arboretum’s website first to find out what flowers are in bloom and which leaves are turning. You can also find guides to the 17 miles of trails as well as activities for children and adults.
Depending on what time of year you are in the region, you may be able to visit the Arboretum during one of its annual festivals, Treefest, which features music, camping, and other fun activities in August, or the Enchanted Christmas event. During the Enchanted Christmas event, trees and pathways are illuminated in the evenings so that guests can explore the beauty of the park at nighttime and see the Arboretum in a whole new way.