Pride of India Stanborough Road

Celebrating our City of Trees this autumn in our centenary year

Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation
One of the greatest pleasures of the town is the beauty and variety of the 19,000 trees in its streets and public places. Our City of Trees project is part of the centenary celebrations with four areas of the town chosen for their beauty and variety, some of which are seldom seen outside botanic gardens. What better time to explore and enjoy their beauty than autumn?

The four areas were selected by the team, Alison Ewington, David Kell, Rosie Brewis and Steve Williams, all members of the WGC Horticultural Society. These are Beehive on the east side of town, Sherrardspark Wood, Handside & Stanborough, and The Campus. Each has its own distinct character.

The tree collection in the Beehive area is a hidden gem and best explored by following the walk route as shown in the leaflet.

Sherrardspark Wood is a well-loved highlight of Welwyn Garden City and is an ancient semi-natural woodland of national importance.

The streets of Handside on the west side of town, and an area by the Stanborough boating lake, support an array of unusual trees – some of which are seldom seen outside botanic gardens.

The concentration of some twenty varieties of trees on The Campus is well-worth exploring at any time of the year.

Legacy of the large number and diversity of trees

The City of Trees project celebrates the legacy of trees in the town. ‘A marriage of town and country’ was Ebenezer Howard’s vision for garden cities.  Town planner Louis de Soissons interpreted this vision when he designed the plan for Welwyn Garden City.  The location of many trees influenced this design as he positioned junctions according to their location for example on Handside Lane.

Local historian Angela Eserin wrote in an article:  “De Soissons commented in 1930 that while many young trees were planted in the town (over 7,000 in the winter of 1926-27 alone) only two trees have been cut down.”

The team hopes the City of Trees will encourage a full appreciation of the environmental, health, economic, aesthetic, and educational benefits of trees.  The team has also explored with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council how it can assist in their plans to increase the diversity and interest of the treescape as opportunities arise.

A photo of Ebenezer and the Garden Team
Ebenezer Howard and his young enthusiastic Garden Team
Parkway and Fountain
Parkway and fountain in 2020

The web site gives a description of the trees in the town, highlighting those of particular interest and the best seasons for viewing them. It gives details of the walks and information about the trees, with links to web sites where additional information can be found. It also contains a photo gallery and children’s section – Junior Corner.

Landscape and Ecology Department at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

The town is most fortunate to have an active and enthusiastic team who look after and plan replacements for trees in their care.  The basis for their work is set out in their ‘Trees and Woodland Strategy’. The Department also maintains a comprehensive mapping system which gives details and the exact location of every tree for which they are responsible. This information was invaluable to the project team in devising the tree walks in various parts of the town and the preparation of maps for use in the walk leaflets and on the web site.

International accreditation

Welwyn Hatfield is one of only a handful of local authorities in the country to secure the prestigious ‘Tree City of the World’ accreditation, which recognises the council’s commitment to planting;  the high standards in caring for the borough’s urban trees; and how deeply the council and residents care about the borough’s environment.

A recent ‘Treeconomics’ report assessing the benefits of Welwyn Hatfield’s trees estimates that it would cost around £27m to replace them and that they capture 3,384 tonnes of CO2 per year – the equivalent of 1,328 people driving a car for over 10 years!

The City of Trees project was developed and supported by the Welwyn Garden City Horticultural Society. The Society is a friendly, welcoming club for all gardeners: young; old; expert and beginner. It offers a programme of speaker meetings and garden visits. See whchortsoc.org.uk for details of how to join.

The City of Trees project emerged from an early idea by Andrew Carnegie to establish an Urban Arboretum in the town.  The team is very grateful to the support of the Landscape and Ecology Department of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, and Wood Wardens. We would also like to thank the generous funding by John Fearon and Tesco through their Bags of Help scheme.

Leaflets for each walk are available at various venues across the town including Waterstones and Oxfam book shops, the central library, Campus West and the station café.  You can also download them from the City of Trees website

www.wgccityoftrees.org.uk and the WGC100 website www.wgc100.org.uk

Autumn highlights in the four areas:

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The Foundation can accept no responsibility for the organisation or regulation of any satellite events arranged to mark the centenary of Welwyn Garden City. This includes but is not limited to public liability insurance, health and safety issues (including risk assessments, Performance Licenses and safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults), transport, hiring of facilities, and any costs associated. The use of the Foundation name and logo does not infer any specific oversight or involvement of the Foundation unless stated.”