A new trail springs up at Westonbirt Arboretum
By David Wood
Where: Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury
When: Until May 31
After a long and wet winter, the first signs that spring is on the way are starting to be spotted at Forestry England's Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.
To help the public take in the best of the new season, the team at Westonbirt have launched a new walking trail, which will get visitors using all five senses to experience one of the world's most beautiful woodland gardens.
As visitors wind their way through the trees, they'll find various stops on the way which will demonstrate how wildlife, plants and humans interact with the natural world around them using all five senses:
- Sight - See some of the rarest and most beautiful trees from around the world as they awaken from the long winter in a burst of riotous colour. Though famous for its spectacular autumn display, the arboretum's collection of rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias and wildflowers make it one of the best places in Britain to take in the visual delights of spring.
- Touch - Discover how the flowers of some trees, such as barberries, have evolved to respond to the touch of insects to help with pollination. When touched at their base, the stamens of the barberry flowers move towards the petals at the centre of the flower.
- Taste - Learn how the cold nights and warm days of spring induce the flow of the sweet-tasting sap of sugar maples, which in some parts of the world can be tapped and used to create maple syrup.
- Sound - By trying their hand at a spot of Forest Bathing along the trail, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the sounds of the forest; scientists now believe that spending time immersed in nature can reduce stress levels by up to 60%.
- Smell - Spring is feast of scents and the new trail takes visitors past the best the season has to offer. Along the path visitors will breathe in the fragrant aroma of North American bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) and other trees; and learn that some scents might not be as sweet as they seem... the sickly sweet scent of the hawthorn hides darker undertones as the chemicals in the scent are similar to those in decaying corpses!
Ben Oliver, Forestry England's learning and participation manager at Westonbirt, said: "This spring we've created a trail that is designed to get visitors using all five senses to experience the magnificent trees of the arboretum, and to understand how trees and wildlife also use senses to interact with the world around them.
"For our youngest visitors, we've created an accompanying family activity trail so that the whole family can join in the fun! Along the trail, both adults and children can join in imitating the sounds bats make to find their way around, feeling the textures of different trees, and following their noses to the source of flowery scents."
The trail is free after entry to the arboretum, and a free accompanying map can be collected from the Welcome Building on arrival. The new spring seasonal trail will be at the arboretum until May 31.
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