Westonbirt to plant new glade of monkey puzzle trees
2:50pm Friday 1st November 2013 in Latest News
The National Arboretum at Westonbirt is celebrating the generosity of its givers with the planting of a new glade of endangered trees.
A group of monkey puzzle (Araucaria araucana) trees will be planted in an area to be named Holford Glade, after Robert Holford, who planted the arboretum from the 1850s onwards.
The planting will commemorate the gifts made by Holford and Maple Circle givers, who have been invited to plant the trees on Friday November 8 to acknowledge their support of the Westonbirt Project.
Monkey puzzle (Araucaria araucana) grows naturally in Chile and Argentina. The species is now classified as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The seed that gave rise to the trees being planted to create the Holford Glade was collected in Chile in 2009 under the International Conifer Conservation Programme, by members of staff from Westonbirt Arboretum, Bedgebury Pinetum and The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was then propagated at Westonbirt.
Simon Toomer, the Forestry Commission’s director at Westonbirt, said: “The creation of this new glade fulfils two of Westonbirt Arboretum’s most important objectives: the preservation of the historical Victorian landscape and the conservation of threatened plants.
"We are delighted to be able to invite givers from the Holford and Maple Circles to participate in its creation.”
Araucaria araucana was first introduced to Britain in 1795 and later became a fashionable addition to Victorian gardens.
The species has an ancient heritage with fossil remains of its extinct relatives found in Jurassic rocks formed some 225 million years ago. Its valuable timber has made it a target for loggers and much of the native forests have been destroyed.
Phase one of the Westonbirt Project is underway and includes the construction of a new Welcome Building, along with the relocation of the car park and restoration the arboretum’s Grade I Registered downland.
It has been funded by The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, Forestry Commission, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award and gifts from a number of foundations, trusts and generous individuals.
Fundraising for phase two of the project, a new tree top walkway and tree management centre, is underway.