Yorkshire Arboretum Newsletter - Issue 3 - May 2014




May 2014




This edition of our

newsletter is being

posted to all Members in

paper form to enable us

to include your copy of

the 2014 What’s On

programme. Future

issues will be sent by

email wherever possible

to minimise costs.

If we don’t already have

your email address

please email us or phone

01653 648598

In this issue:

From the Director 1

Staff News 1

Weddings at the


Out & About in the




Membership News 2

Ancient Crafts


From the Education




Ray Wood News 4

Customer Research



The winter is generally believed to be a quiet

time at the arboretum, but for the staff it’s

anything but! We use the closed season to

plan & prepare for the year ahead, & before

we know it the first of February has arrived

& we welcome back our Members.

There will be no Wild About Wood festival

this year, as we’ve instead been working on

a much more extensive programme of

events taking place throughout the season.

This programme provides something of

interest for everyone from the opportunity

to climb our biggest oaks, to enjoying a brass

band or massed choirs concert. You can

learn about biodiversity or gardening, or

spend a night camping in the arboretum.

There are also new school holiday activities

for children. The full What’s On programme

is included with this Newsletter, &

information about each event will appear on

our website shortly.


Ben Paterson joins us as Grounds Arborist,

boosting our capacity to maintain & develop

the arboretum as he works with Neil Batty &

our volunteers on the Operations & Tree


Ben Paterson

Last season’s desk coordinator

Susan Casey

has taken a job with

the RSPB at Malham

Cove & we wish her

every success in her

new role.

Our new Visitor

Services Coordinator is


We have been successful in our application for a licence

to host weddings, civil partnerships & other celebratory

ceremonies at the arboretum. The Cruck House is our

licensed wedding “room”, offering probably the closest

thing to an outdoor wedding that it’s possible to have in

England, with the Visitor Centre offering an alternative

in the event of poor weather. We’re looking forward to

playing a part in some very special days in the months &

years to come.

Education is at the core of our bid for a grant

from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project

revolves around a timber-framed outdoor

classroom & associated environmentallythemed

garden areas, but will strongly

feature the heritage of trees, both inherited

& for passing on to the future. Heritage is

not static! Our draft bid is to be submitted at

the end of May – a task that is keeping many

of us very busy indeed until then. One of the

consequences is that this newsletter is being

sent to you later than we would have liked.

Our apologies!

The staff at the Yorkshire Arboretum form a

small but dedicated team, achieving a lot

with scant resources, but with the aid of a

remarkable body of volunteers. I take this

opportunity to thank them all for their input

into making this a very special place.

John Grimshaw


Sam Forrest, who’ll be

looking after Members

& visitors alongside the

Visitor Services

volunteer team. Also a

professional musician,

we hope Sam will be

persuaded to perform

for us!

Our warmest

Sam Forrest

congratulations go to

Jonathan Watkinson (Ray Wood

Coordinator) on his engagement to Sarah

Burton. They are planning a summer


Yorkshire Arboretum Members’ Newsletter

Page 2


If you’d like to help

us manage &

develop the


Arboretum, or

know someone

else who might,

please have a look

at the volunteering

roles advertised on

our website, &

contact the


Coordinators if

they are of



Last autumn volunteers & staff planted

50,000 bulbs – the shipment from Holland

weighed just over a ton, so even moving

them about was quite a challenge. Although

they’re all of cultivated stock, the varieties

have been carefully selected to look natural

& elegant. No uniform swathes of big yellow

daffodils here, but instead a natural-looking

scatter of the clone ‘Topolino’, looking like a

Wild Daffodil, followed by the pale ‘W.P.

Milner’ & the Pheasant’s-eye Narcissus

poeticus ‘Recurvus’. On the approach to the

Visitor Centre the grass is starred with a

succession of smaller bulbs, progressing

from snowdrops & crocuses to scillas &

grape hyacinths & then to larger daffodils &

finally camassias.

Camassias are

something of a

signature plant in the

Yorkshire Arboretum,

making a very bold

statement in May &

June. We added

another 5000 of them

last autumn, extending

the plantings from the

Visitor Centre to

Bracken Hill.

The winter storms did not leave the

arboretum unscathed, though we got off

lightly in comparison with many parts of the

country. A few trees blew over in the

arboretum, & some branches snapped out,

but on the whole damage was limited & was

promptly dealt with by Neil Batty & his team.

A number of willows were among the

casualties, especially where they are growing

as large, mature trees in wet ground. We

have one of the largest collections of willows

in the country, but to keep it healthy we are

working through it to tidy up the plants,

often coppicing them to stumps to

encourage regeneration of vigorous new

growth, while others will be repropagated

from cuttings.

A stock of new accessions has accumulated

from gardens across the country, from

Windsor Great Park to the Royal Botanic

Garden Edinburgh, who have all generously

donated specimens. They’ve been planted by

the Tree Team, ensuring that the arboretum

remains an actively growing collection. A

highlight is the extremely rare Vietnamese

Golden-cypress, Xanthocyparis vietnamensis,

discovered only in 1999 & now being

propagated at Edinburgh. These will be the

first to be planted in North Yorkshire, so

we’ll see how well it does in our conditions.



The bird feeding

stations (on the

lawn adjacent to

the café & at the

bird observatory)

are regularly

refilled by one of

our valued



Thank you to all our Members who have renewed thus far in 2014. Your subscriptions

make a real difference to the work we’re able to do here. Paying by Direct Debit

reduces our administration costs & ensures your membership never lapses, while

completing a Gift Aid declaration to accompany your renewal increases its value to us

significantly. Please consider these options when its time for your next renewal.

The new Members’ Access System of swipe cards is now

fully operational &, after a few minor teething troubles as

expected, is working very efficiently, reducing the

administrative burden on our Visitor Services Team &

increasing the security of the arboretum.

If you’d like to topup

the feeders

between our

volunteer’s visits

you can buy a bag

of bird seed in the

shop for only 50p.

All proceeds help

us develop our

conservation work.

As a charity with limited resources, the Trust is not able to provide free pooper scoop

bags to dog owners. Please ensure you bring along your own supplies for your dog.

Regrettably there has been an increase recently in reports of dog mess. This is a

health risk & deeply unpleasant for Members, volunteers, visitors & staff. Please help

us to keep the arboretum a place of beauty for all by ensuring that you clean up after

your dog every time, even in remote areas of the arboretum.

We are pleased to offer Members a 10% discount in the Yorkshire Arboretum Shop.

Just present your card with your purchases at the till. Please note that, with regret,

this discount is not applicable to purchases from the café.

May 2014 Page 3


When visiting the arboretum you may have noticed that, as you drive

in & walk up to the Visitor Centre, you are now guided by a wattle

fence woven by the Tree Team. This ancient art, which dates back at

least 6,000 years to the Neolithic period, is undergoing something of

a revival as groups of enthusiasts get together to recreate fences &

field enclosures similar to those of our ancestors.

If you needed a fence before the advent of the Industrial Revolution,

then the only thing to do would be to get on & make one by driving in a line of posts, selecting some

thin flexible branches pruned from trees & weaving them between the posts. A bit like basket weaving

really, but on a much larger scale. You could even weave your own home – adding a coat of daub (an

unappealing mixture of clay & cow dung) to weatherproof the building.

Another ancient craft which we revived over the winter was building a dead hedge around the old

moribund Hornbeam (near Furniture Maker’s walk, along the wall side in area 17A) to preserve the

ecological value of the standing dead wood. This hedge is slightly different to the wattle fence, in that

you lay out two lines of posts, & then fill between them with the brash that would normally be burnt

or go into the chipper. Things like brambles, Hawthorn & Blackthorn make a formidable hedge that

would keep your animals safely enclosed, & any potential predators safely at bay.

We plan to use more of this sort of dead hedging wherever there is need for a barrier or screen, using

brash that would otherwise be useless. It’s environmentally beneficial, reducing our carbon emissions,

& provides a useful habitat for many creatures & fungi, as well as being ornamental in its own right.


The outdoor


programme is back

in action with

bookings in place for

school visits

throughout the

summer term. We

are looking forward

to welcoming new schools as well as old friends to

pond-dip & build shelters.

The summer months will bring a few changes to

our usual calendar with the commencement of

the Arboretum Explorers’ Club. This will take place

on three Mondays during the summer holiday for

intrepid young explorers - children who like the

sound of minibeast hunting, creative arts where

they can experience poetry, wax-resist pictures or

creative tree-designing, & activities such as

orienteering & shelter-building.

We’re also launching Wild World Wednesdays,

offering hourly family drop-in sessions on the

day’s theme , whether it be pond-dipping, hunting

for minibeasts, skipping through the woodland on

fairy adventures, or creating shelters for a

pretend night under the stars.

Excitingly, later this spring, we will be opening our

Woodland Playground, a children’s play area with

natural equipment. There will be lots of jumping,

climbing & building fun to be had & we look

forward to our younger visitors & school groups

making the most of this new facility.

In conjunction with Buglife, we are promoting the

wildflower area near Tercentenary Wood through

a minibeast discovery walk. Families will be

invited to follow the trail whilst learning about the

small creatures which frequent our woodland &

meadow areas. Keep an eye out for trail leaflets

appearing in the Visitor Centre soon.




Do you have an old


chair lurking in the

shed, or cluttering

the kitchen? If you

could spare it, we

could use it. All will

be revealed later…


We’re joining in the countywide

excitement about the

Grand Depart of the Tour de

France by taking part in the

RHS/Welcome to Yorkshire

initiative to ‘Turn Yorkshire Yellow’. We’re

creating a yellow bicycle wheel in plants in Area

15 – follow its progress over the next few months.

And we’re celebrating

Yorkshire Day, Friday 1 st

August, with our first

Yorkshire Voices’ concert

featuring several local choirs

(& some very familiar arboretum faces!) Bring a

picnic & enjoy a summer evening in the

arboretum at this unmissable event.

Brochure design: www.marketingbyignite.com

May 2014 Page 4


The results of three years of restoration work

(supported by the Monument Trust & Foundation

Arboretum Wespelaar) are really showing now, &

are a credit to the volunteer teams led formerly

by Jan Hoyland & now by Jonathan Watkinson.

Work has continued unabated through the winter,

with an emphasis on renovating paths meaning

that tons of wood chips have been heaved up &

down the slopes. The result is an increasing

network of paths that are pleasant to walk on &

which will encourage visitors to explore different

parts of the garden.

It is noticeable that some rhododendrons that

didn’t flower last year are now blooming well – &

that some that did, are not – & that in general the

plants are looking healthy & promising a good

season of interest. Our Rhododendron collection

in Ray Wood is of exceptional interest, & almost

certainly the finest in north-eastern England, with

a great diversity of wild-origin species & garden


It is important that we take good care of this

diversity, so we have been assessing the collection

to identify plants of particular interest. Using the

IUCN Rhododendron Red List we’ve found that we

are custodians of four species considered to be


To help us refine our

plans for the future

we’ve recently

conducted some

market research with

our customers. Two

surveys have so far

been completed, one

amongst current arboretum users (Members,

visitors & volunteers) & the other with users of

our Outdoor Education programme (teachers &

teaching assistants). We’ll also be undertaking in

the next few weeks a survey of people who have

not yet visited the arboretum.

Both completed surveys have achieved excellent

response rates, & it has been very interesting &

useful for us to hear so many views & opinions

from those who use the arboretum & feel

passionately about it.

Critically Endangered

in the wild & ten that

are Endangered, with

many more in the

IUCN categories

Vulnerable or Near


We’re also looking at

those species

represented in Ray

Wood by only plants,

making a list that is Rhododendron thomsonii

becoming rather

lengthy. This triage work makes it possible for us

to prioritise care for the collection, & to choose

which specimens need to be propagated.

Last summer, Rhododendron enthusiasts from the

Himalayan Garden near Ripon collected material

for cuttings & grafting in their specialist facilities,

& we’ve also sent a batch of flower buds to the

propagation unit at the Duchy College in Cornwall

for tissue culture. Among them is the ‘Hooker

original’ clone of Rhododendron thomsonii, grown

from seed collected in Sikkim in 1849.

Managing the arboretum, now & in the future,

while accommodating a wide range of customer

opinions remains a challenge. One of the

questions we asked current users was “If you

could change one thing about the arboretum,

what would it be, & why?” we received the

following answers amongst many others!

User 1:

User 2:

User 3:

User 4:

User 5:

User 6:

User 7:

User 8:

‘Use more sculptures/things of interest to increase

visitor numbers’

‘Fewer benches & sculptures (don't want it to look

like a suburban municipal park)’

‘Hold more events that would attract children &


‘We have stopped going to National Trust places as

there are now so many events for children’

‘Great improvements in the last 10 months, well


‘Standards of maintenance & presentation seem to

have slipped recently’

‘Ban dogs’

‘Make it more dog-friendly’

We hope this

newsletter is


informative &

helps you gain

the most from


membership of

the Yorkshire


Please send

your feedback,

together with

your photos,

stories &

suggestions for

topics you’d like

to see covered

in the next issue





Castle Howard


YO60 7BY

p: 01653 648598

e: members@yorkshirearboretum.org

w: www.yorkshirearboretum.org

The Yorkshire Arboretum is indebted to the many talented photographers whose work illustrates these pages. These include, amongst others John Grimshaw, Harry &

Joyce Kingman. All photos & illustrations remain © of their respective copyright owners & are used with permission.

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