Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best gardens or arboretum initiative

Winner -Batsford Arboretum, The Batsford Foundation

Established in 1886, Batsford Arboretum covers 60 acres housing 3,000 trees and shrubs including several that are endangered in their natural habitat. It has 10 champion trees, the National Collection of Japanese flowering cherries and several Red Data species. More than 65,000 people visit each year and become aware of the need to protect trees, both in the UK and around the world.

Since 2010 there has been a programme of targeted and intelligent investment by the Batsford Foundation in visitor facilities, services on offer and maintenance plus expansion of the tree and plant collection.

A visitor centre, shop, plant centre and café/restaurant have been added, turning Batsford into an all-weather visitor attraction that is open 364 days a year. New facilities installed for young people include a children’s play area that provides clear messages on why we need trees, forests and woodlands.

An education centre is available not only for organised school groups but can be hired and used by clubs, societies and the local community. This has enabled Batsford to develop its already diverse and engaging series of events and activities.

The arboretum grounds have been expanded by more than 10 per cent of the original landholding. New pathways and all-ability trails have been added, bridges installed and investment made in all-terrain buggies to allow less able visitors to access and enjoy the arboretum.

Interpretation boards and path junction maps are being installed ready for the 2017 season. New planting is focusing on conserving rare and endangered species from around the world, in particular through work with the International Conifer Conservation Programme.

A 10-year planting plan has been established to ensure the arboretum is a "garden for all seasons". New and expanded collections include aconites, cyclamen, hellebores, coloured-stemmed dogwoods and snowdrops for winter; magnolias, daffodils and flowering cherries for spring; flowering shrubs such as hydrangeas and wild flower meadows for summer; and Japanese maples and other leaf-colouring trees for autumn.

However, new plantings are of course only part of the story. Batsford’s superb maintenance programme ensures that all plants are looked after, from young saplings in their establishment phase right through to managing the safe decline of mature veterans.


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