A Year in the Life of Westonbirt

The Westonbirt estate, in Gloucestershire, is home to two schools and the National Arboretum, and now the pleasure gardens around the house are being restored. Sarah Howard’s photography celebrates the trees and shrubs of the arboretum in her new book.

A Year in the Life of Westonbirt, by Sarah Howard

YOU CAN enjoy more of the work of BRITAIN magazine photographer, Sarah Howard in her new book, A Year in the Life of Westonbirt. The hardback book, published by Frances Lincoln, £16.99, is a celebration of Westonbirt Arboretum, one of the greatest tree collections in the world. It explores the arboretum through the seasons, with Sarah’s beautiful photography accompanied by words from Gail McKenzie.

The National Arboretum at Westonbirt is a historic collection of trees and shrubs (including the National Japanese Maple or Acer Collection) in 600 acres of landscaped grounds planted in a picturesque style following the guidelines laid down by W S Gilpin. The arboretum was created on the Westonbirt estate in the 1850s by Robert Holford and developed by his son, George. It’s a lovely place to visit when you’re exploring the Cotswolds, and there’s a year-round events calendar: for example, at Christmastime (up to 20 December in 2009), you can see the arboretum lit up at night, with Christmas entertainment and Christmas shopping.

Westonbirt's acer glade, photographed by Sarah Howard
Westonbirt’s acer glade, by Sarah Howard

Westonbirt House, built as the country seat of the Holfords, has been home to Westonbirt School since 1928 and the estate is also now home the new Rose Hill Westonbirt Prep School, recently opened by the Duchess of Cornwall. The arboretum has been managed by the Forestry Commission since 1961 and now the gardens around Westonbirt House are also being restored by The Holfords of Westonbirt Trust. Further open days and tours, where visitors can experience the whole estate (house, gardens, woodlands and arboretum) are being planned for 2010 (including 12 and 13 April) to help raise funds for the much needed restoration work. 


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