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Plant Focus

Quercus peninsularis
A Red Oak (Section Lobatae) endemic to inland ranges of northern Baja California, Mexico

Oak Open Days in Congrove and Westonbirt

Event Date: 
Sunday, 6 July 2014 to Monday, 7 July 2014

The first European event of the year will be in the UK, where turnout has been so encouraging that we are offering a two-day event (but members may opt to attend either day on its own). On Sunday, July 6 Christine Battle has kindly offered to open to the IOS her collection of rare oaks and other unusual trees at Congrove Arboretum, commencing with a buffet lunch at 12:30; the following day, Monday, July 7, we make an all-day visit to the well-known arboretum at Westonbirt, with its many splendid mature trees.


Several IOS members will already know the ‘hidden gem’ of Congrove, but here is a little more information from Christine for those who have not visited before:

Ben and Christine Battle began planting trees shortly after they moved from London to Congrove about 16 years ago. The original plan was simply to replace the trees lost from a Victorian pinetum over the intervening decades since WWII, but this soon became a passion for collecting which has resulted in about 2,500 new specimen trees being planted in the last decade. Quercus are a particular favorite, and Congrove is now home to around 200 species. They do particularly well in the benign microclimate, which consists of a south-facing valley side. Long hours of sunshine, much (sometimes too much!) soft West Country rain and good drainage combined with shelterbelts of mature native trees provide warmth, shelter and nourishment - an ideal habitat for oaks. Magnolias also flourish in these conditions, as do some of the more tender species of Pinus (e.g., Pinus maximartinezii) and other conifers such as Araucaria. In all, some 25 to 30 acres of the 65-acre property are now planted with specimen trees or native woodland shelterbelts. You can read an interview with Christine about her oak collection here.

Congrove Arboretum. Photo: Christine Batle.



The magnificent collection at Westonbirt was first started by the Holford family and includes many mature oaks.

Below is a short word from botanist Dan Crowley, who will be hosting the Oak Open Day:

"We currently list 247 taxa - we have some that are currently listed only to genus level, but some of these are native or Q. cerris or possibly hybrids between the two! Those of note include fine mature examples of Q. robur, Q. canariensis, Q. ilex, Q. macranthera and Q. frainetto, as well as some of the more common North American species. Concentrated diversity can be found in part of Silk Wood, where earlier management initiated the planting of a number of 'collections' with Quercus being one of these. Whilst planting in this area is no longer restricted to oaks, a significant number are found here. Both young and mature examples of various species can also be found throughout the site. Plantings in recent years include examples of Q. variabilis, Q. gravesii, Q. rysophylla 'Maya' and Quercus mongolica ssp. crispula from a Westonbirt-led trip to Japan, to name a few!  As mentioned, there are inevitable 'queries' among representatives of the genus, which no doubt shall emerge throughout the course of the day!"

Please e-mail tours@internationaloaksociety.org to register. 

Quercus rubra on Mitchell Drive in Westonbirt Arboretum, May 2010. Photo: Charles Snyers


Congreve, Westonbirt
United Kingdom
Event Category: