Sidmouth Arboretum's annual Celebration of Trees took place at Kennaway House on Saturday, December 9.

The day-long event featured stalls, Christmas tree decorating, demonstrations of woodcrafts and entertainment from the Sid Vale Folk Choir.

Designer and maker Nick Sneller of Ottery St Mary was displaying his wooden crafts, ranging from chopping boards to furniture. The woods include holly, ash and beech, and Nick can explain the history and provenance of each piece. “It's been a wonderful event and I've really enjoyed the opportunity to chat with visitors who are interested in trees and woodworking,” said Nick. “I've also appreciated the opportunity to network with other environmental groups in the area.”

Visitors were greeted with further tree-themed activities – including the chance to decorate Christmas trees kindly donated by King's Garden Centre. But the team from SeaFest had something very special on hand – in the shape of all sorts of winter greenery to make little garlands or little wooden trees or other decorations from natural materials gathered from hereabouts.

There was the chance to chat with the District Council's Countryside team. There were several craftspeople on show – both showing off their wares and showing how they make their pieces, from fine wooden bowls and other pieces from the lathe, to larger items including tables and stools showing off the fabulous grain of the wood.

One common theme was birds – with one crafter showing demonstrating how to transfer pieces of drift wood into extraordinarily lifelike owls and sparrows and more; and another crafter patiently carving feathers out of a piece of wood, to then delicately paint and mark further with pyrography.

Sidmouth Herald: Sea Fest volunteers decorated Christmas trees

No celebration of trees would be without the participation of the local and regional nature groups – including the SVA, the Rotary, Friends of the Byes, Sid Valley Biodiversity Group, and Friends of Glen Goyle – plus, new this year, the Sidmouth Community Forest Garden. Lots of engaging and informed conversations were had as the day progressed. The Arboretum held a quiz, getting people to identify seeds and twigs and maps of upcoming planting and surveying.

And in several special talks over the day, the Arboretum told attendees a little more about what it had done and what it plans to do. The three now fully decorated Christmas trees were auctioned off – no doubt going to good homes – raising a little more for the Arboretum. The Arboretum's chair Jon Ball thought this year's all day celebration went really well – with the mix of free trees, talks, stalls and demonstrations. 

Carolyn Trussell, committee member of Sidmouth Arboretum said: 'We've been given three Christmas trees by Kings Garden Centre as a gift and they've been decorated by Seafest volunteers and children using natural decorations. The trees are going to be auctioned to raise funds for the Arboretum.”

Diana East, president of Sidmouth Arboretum, said: “We're delighted that the event has been so successful and well-attended.”