Henry John Elwes, FRS (1846-1922) is a name well known to foresters and dendrologists through his work The Trees of Great Britain and Ireland written between 1906 and 1913 with the help of Augustine Henry, the botanist noted for his exploration of the Chinese flora.
During a lifetime of travel Henry Elwes devoted his attention variously to ornithology, lepidoptery, agriculture with particular reference to sheep breeding, horticulture and latterly to forestry, writing an enormous amount of valuable material on each subject.
When he inherited Colesbourne from his father in 1891 he became keenly interested in forestry, eventually planting 700 acres, much of it experimentally. On his extensive travels he collected many species of trees not previously grown in Great Britain and gradually built up an arboretum of rare trees added to by purchases from commercial nurseries and other estate owners.
The policy has been to maintain a plantsman’s collection of interesting trees by the addition of new specimens from around the world over the last fifty years. In recent years the arboretum has been augmented by trees acquired by John Grimshaw in the course of his dendrological studies and several specimens were planted in 2010 to mark the retirement of Sir Henry Elwes as Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire.
There are now around 300 trees from around the world. The Arboretum has recently been re-assessed by The Tree Register of the UK and has 13 National Champion trees and no fewer than 37 Gloucestershire Champions.
Our tour will be with Sir Henry Elwes, CLA Gloucestershire President. This visit is not created for colourful vistas or autumn colour but rather a plantsman’s collection. The Colesbourne Inn is recommended for lunch prior to our visit.