A perfect spring picnic at The Yorkshire Arboretum.

Arboretums contain a carefully curated collection of trees and are an ideal place for tree experts to have an enriching and relaxing day out of the office. Visiting arboretums offers many benefits to tree surveyors; from the ability to practise tree ID skills on a diverse range of species and learn about local biodiversity initiatives to meeting passionate people working in another area of the arboricultural industry – all of whom share a desire to see trees well cared for. It was also a great place for a picnic.

We began our morning walking around the east side of the site past Atkinson’s bog and through the woodland garden, where, after marvelling at its surfaces and many habit features, we practised our best band photo skills on a giant hunk of deadwood.


Our team of dendrophiles then slowly strolled through the Tercentenary Wood discussing tree form and catching up with each other in person.


Maddie office manager at Yorkshire Arboretum with crown tree consultancy

Most arboretums usually have a very impressive diversity of tree species in them. This rich tapestry serves as an invaluable resource for arboricultural consultants to expand their understanding of different tree species. Arboretums allow for hands-on learning enabling tree experts to examine trees’ unique characteristics and growth patterns.


Continuing our stroll we came to a bench opposite a huge crop of fluffy willow in the centre of the arboretum that was just starting to buzz with spring insect life; the perfect spot for lunch. Sika, our tree decay detection dog, was a bit miffed at having not had a proper baguette made up for her and thought she might like to go to the arboretum cafe instead.

After lunch, it was time for more novelty ID practice and a chance for the tree consultants to explain some of the techniques they use to ID trees when undertaking arboricultural surveys. Those who work in the office don’t get to examine trees that often so it was nice to get a chance to do so at the arboretum.

Tree surveys can be requested for such a wide variety of purposes and an arboricultural consultant will always enquire about the nature of the tree report required prior to undertaking the survey so the correct data can be collected. Whatever the survey though, our consultants will always need to know what species of tree we are commenting on as this determines how it will interact with its environment both under and overground.


Columnar, upright, spreading, oval, weeping, open and irregular are terms used to describe a tree’s form and the way trees grow to reach a particular form is described as their habit. An arboretum is a great place to see this as the trees are often planted and maintained in a way that allows their natural habits to be visible.


After all the walking, and lots of talk about various advances in tree surveying technology, there was just time for our arboricultural consultants to catch some blossoms before we set off.

We would like to thank The Yorkshire Arboretum for such a splendid day out and highly recommend it to anyone living in or visiting Yorkshire. We look forward to returning again in the not-too-distant future.

Not in Yorkshire? Tony Kirkham (Former head of the Arboretum and Gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew) recently published an article in Country Life magazine titled Best arboretums in the UK and it features locations from across the British Isles. You can also search for even more local sites using Forestry England’s forest map