Top 10 UK Arboretums

Arboretums are important to the public understanding of trees, woodland and forests, as well as the field of arboristry. As land devoted to the planting of trees and shrubs, arboreta preserve endangered trees as well as species that depend upon them. By nurturing the trees in a managed environment, this helps preserve biological diversity. 

Importantly arboretums, as well as botanic gardens, play an important conservation role. In addition, scientists and arborists use Arboreta as a basis for scientific studies. 

Arboreta also play an important social and educational role. Green spaces are important, not only for conservation but for providing a therapeutic environment in which people can unwind from the pressures of today’s high-speed lifestyle. An arboretum is also a place where individuals can study at mature plants and trees in order to enhance their own understanding and growing skills.

In this article, let’s take a look at some of the incredible Arboreta that we have on our doorstep here in the UK. 

Here are our top 10 UK arboreta:

1. Westonbirt, Tetbury 

Westonbirt is breathtaking, especially in the autumn months, when the leaves on many of this Gloucestershire based arboretum’s trees turn radiant red and orange. This arboretum was created by the Holford family in Victorian times and is now managed by the Forestry Commission. As the UK’s National Arboretum, it plays an essential role in conservation and research, boasting some of the rarest trees in the world. There are over 16,000 trees of a staggering 3,000 varieties at Westonbirt. Assistance dogs are welcome in all areas; other dogs are permitted on leads. 

Opening times: Open every day apart from Christmas day from 9:00 am, with the last entry being at 4:00 or 4:30 pm. 

Entrance Fees: Full entry in the peak season is £10, with concessions of £7.00 and £4.00 for children.  

2. Batsford, Cotswolds

This collection has an emphasis on the Far East, with the Japanese flowering cherry collection established in 2002, boasting 70% of the known cultivars. These trees do not live for long, on average 50 years, so new trees are grafted every 25 to 30 years. Other collections include acers, bamboo, magnolia, pinus, quercus and sorbus. Batsford helps the survival of other gardens such as Kew, Bedgebury and Westonbirt, by taking in red data plant material

Opening times: Open every day apart from Christmas day, from 9:00-5:00 Monday-Saturday and 10:00-5:00 on Sundays and Bank Holidays. 

Entry Fees: Full entry price is £7.95, with concessions of £6.95, and £3.50 for children. 

3. The Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard

This is set in 120 acres and has 6,000 trees. It was set up in 1979 with trees purchased from Hillier Nurseries in Hampshire. The trees are from the temperate parts of the world, including Chile and Australasia, as well as species from Europe, North America and Asia. The trees in the Yorkshire Arboretum also reflect the labours of those who bring back and preserve seeds from the wild, with examples from the most notable collectors of the past 160 years. 

Opening times: Open from 1st February until 30th November. 

Entry Fees: Full entry is £7.00, children’s concession is £3.50. Under 12s go free. 

4. Thorp Perrow, Yorkshire Dales

Set in 100 acres, with five national collections, there is also a bird of prey and mammal centre. Thorp Perrow runs a number of seasonal events, including tribute band concerts, tours and walks. It was created by Colonel Sir Leonard Ropner (1895-1977). It also includes the Millbank Pinetum, created by Lady Augusta Millbank in the 19th century and the Mediaeval Spring Wood, which dates back to the 16th century. 

Opening Times: Thorp Perrow is open all year round, 10:00-3:00 (10:00-4:00 at weekends) in the winter season, and 10:00-5:00 in the high season. 

Entrance Fees: Full entry price is £9.40, with concessions at £8.40 and children £5.80. 

5. RHS Garden Rosemoor, Devon

Set in the beautiful Torridge valley in Great Torrington in Devon, Garden Rosemoor is a magnificent garden with displays for every season. Lady Anne’s arboretum was set up in the 1970s by Lady Anne Palmer. The Bicentenary arboretum is a fine example of the best trees grown in the northern hemisphere. 

Opening Times: Open every day apart from Christmas day, from 10:00-5:00 in the low season and 10:00-6:00 in the high season. 

Entrance Fees: Full entry is £12.98 or £11.80 with and without gift aid, with concessions of £6.49 and £5.90 for children. 

6. Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey

Winkworth Arboretum is situated in Godalming, Surrey and was created in the early 20th century by Dr Wilfrid Fox. There are more than 1,000 different species, including some very rare varieties. Managed by the National Trust for 60 years, there are many guided walks and family activities available. Nordic walking is also on offer, and there are opportunities for volunteers. 

Opening Times: Winkworth is open for most of the year, but closed on 24th and 25th December. 

Entrance Fees: Full entry is £10.00 and £9.05, with and without gift aid, with concessions for children of £5.00 and £4.50. 

7. National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire

Opened in 1997 by staff and volunteers of the British Legion, the National Memorial Arboretum is located in Alrewas, Staff. The trees have significance for those who have given their lives and service to their country. It is set in 150 acres and contains over 30,000 trees, set amongst a growing collection of memorials. There is also a chapel of peace and forgiveness. 

Opening Times: Open daily apart from Christmas day, from 9:00-5:00, closing at dusk in the winter months. 

Entrance Fees: Entry to the NMA is free, with donations welcome. 

8. Blenheim Palace and Gardens, Oxfordshire

The birthplace and childhood home of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace offers pleasure gardens, formal gardens and the Marlborough Maze, made up of 2 miles of yew trees. The grounds are situated in Woodstock in Oxfordshire. As well as trees, the estate also boasts beautiful pleasure gardens and the palace itself features a Churchill exhibition which provides an added dimension for anyone interested in Britain’s iconic wartime leader.

Opening Times: The park is open daily from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm; the formal and pleasure gardens close earlier. 

Entrance Fees: Full entry just to the park and gardens is £16.00, with concessions of £13.00 and children £7.40. There is also an annual pass available that gives discounts on all sorts of other attractions.

9. Derby Arboretum

Also known as Arboretum Park, the city of Derby hosts the oldest public park in the UK., donated to the people of the city by former mayor and mill owner, Joseph Strutt in 1840. Many of the trees here are listed on the British Isles Tree Register with some being planted in the 19th century. Over £5 million was invested to restore the arboretum in 2002, most of which came from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Work on refurbishment was completed in 2005 restoring the arboretum to its former glory. More details can be found in the Derby Arboretum Tree Trail download (PDF).

Opening times: The park is a public park so is open round the clock.

Entrance Fees: Whilst there is no entrance fee to the park, some events held in the park may charge.

10. RHS Harlow Carr, North Yorkshire

The Royal Horticultural Society acquired Harlow Carr in 2001 after it merged with the Northern Horticultural Society. Harlow Carr is based in Harrogate in North Yorkshire and is set in 68 acres with a wide variety of landscapes. The winter walk is a good place to start exploring this wonderful landscape. There is also a hedgehog-friendly garden, ideal for families to visit. 

Opening Times: Harlow Carr is open all year apart from Christmas day, from 9:30 to 4:00 or 6:00 pm. 

Entrance Fees: Entry is £12.98 or £11.80 with and without gift aid, and £6.49 and £5.90 for children.