Brochure design: www.marketingbyignite.com May 2014 Page 4 RAY WOOD NEWS 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 hybrids. 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 CUSTOMER RESEARCH SURVEYS 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 Threatened. 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 & families’ ‘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 done’ ‘Standards of maintenance & presentation seem to have slipped recently’ ‘Ban dogs’ ‘Make it more dog-friendly’ We hope this newsletter is useful, informative & helps you gain the most from your membership of the Yorkshire Arboretum. Please send your feedback, together with your photos, stories & suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered in the next issue to: news@ yorkshirearboretum. org Castle Howard York YO60 7BY p: 01653 648598 e: firstname.lastname@example.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.