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Westonbirt's Goddess Magnolia celebrates the arrival of spring

As if to order, the buds of Westonbirt, The National Arboretum's Goddess magnolia tree are blooming for the first official day of spring.

Recognised as being a Champion, the largest specimen of its kind recorded in the British Isles, the Magnolia sprengeri ‘Diva' has been spurred into bloom by the mild weather of the last few days.

The 22 metre tall tree, located near to Savill Glade in the Old Arboretum, is just one of 140 magnolias in the Forestry Commission managed National Arboretum

The Goddess magnolia is one of Westonbirt Arboretum's heritage trees, collected as seed by the famous Gloucestershire plant hunter, Ernest Wilson, from one of his many expeditions to Western China.

The Goddess magnolia Magnolia sprengeri ‘Diva' at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum. Credit Gina Mills/ Forestry Commission.

This season's spring trail explores more of the history behind the specimen plants collected from across the world for the arboretum's Victorian creator, Robert Holford.

You can see more photos of the Goddess magnolia on Westonbirt Arboretum's Facebook page, or in this week's Spring Colour Watch Blog, published on on Friday 23 March.

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to the National Japanese Maple Collection, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000 specimens. Visitor numbers are over 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford, and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity's objects are to support the National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity no. 293190. More information at

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Source: Westonbirt Arboretum


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