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Autumn Color at Westonbirt Arboretum Autumn is the highlight of the maple season with the brilliant colours of the Japanese maples in particular - but there are maples for all seasons. Even in winter the snake-bark and paper-bark maples are eye-catching, with others revealing graceful and unusual crown and branch patterns. Late winter sees the bright red bursts of the red and silver maple flowers, followed in spring by the yellow flower clusters of Norway and Greek maples, red flowers and fruits of Japanese maples and delicate yellow flower chains of the snake-barks, culminating in the beautiful conspicuous red blooms of the devil's maple. Summer sees the maple leaf in all its variety of shape, size and texture, with colours ranging through green, yellow, red, purple, gold and variegated, leading to the colour explosion in autumn.

Over the past twenty years maples have become increasingly popular, with more and more people planting them in their gardens. There are over 120 species growing wild throughout Europe, North Africa, Asia and North America, of which about 70 can thrive in British conditions. What other tree genus can offer horticulturists the variety and scope for large or small gardens, patio or container planting, that can be found among the numerous maple species and cultivars? Selections for size, form, bark, foliage, flowers, leaves or autumn colour are abundant. There are species for wet, dry, acid or alkaline soils, and for sunshine, shade, exposed or sheltered conditions.

At last a society has been formed to cater for and foster interest in this delightful, versatile genus. Founded by Doug Goodyer, Superintendent at Hever Castle, its objects are to encourage the cultivation of maples, enable members to learn from each other about their propagation, cultivation, introduction and identification, and facilitate the study of the botany, uses and cultural needs of maples. The society's President is the popular plantsman, broadcaster and author, Roy Lancaster. Members include Dick van Gelderen, Gordon Harris, Piet de Jong, Peter Gregory and J. D. Vertrees, leading experts in the world of maples.

The society intends to be an active one, with a quarterly newsletter containing information on maples in cultivation and in the wild, and to which members are welcome to contribute articles of interest, news, views, problems, etc. Talks will be given by leading authorities at our A.G.M., and a program of outings to major collections and gardens is proposed. It is hoped to form an advisory panel for members, and to distribute a seed list whereby members can acquire and exchange seed.

The Maple Society invites you to join us, and find out more about a fascinating genus offering variety in every month of the year. To quote Roy Lancaster: "Whether you grow, paint, study or simply enthuse over them, you will be supporting one of the loveliest, most variable and useful of all groups of ornamental trees." If you would like to become a member, all enthusiasts are welcome!

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