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Bethlehem Wood at Wakehurst

Dedicating a woodland area is a unique way to celebrate the life of someone special. Every year we plant new botanical specimens to enrich and enhance the collections, creating remarkable woodlands that will live for generations to come. Bethlehem Wood, located at Wakehurst Place, is home to the National Birch Collection.
Bluebells in Bethlehem Wood at Wakehurst in spring
Bethlehem Wood is comprised almost entirely of birches. There are more than 340 hybrids, cultivars and species, and they represent the National Collection.

The birches in Bethlehem Wood range from Britain’s common white-trunked silver birch (Betula pendula) through to species from China and North America. In early spring the ground is coloured yellow with primroses, then in May, the bluebells come into bloom.

A unique collection


Sweet birch (Betula lenta)
One of the many birches at Bethlehem Wood, the sweet birch, (Betula lenta).

Wakehurst’s birches are subdivided into Asian, European and American continental zones that demonstrate the genus’ vast geographic range. Specimens include the silver birch (Betula pendula), the red-brown-trunked Betula albo-sinensis, and a rare North American tree, the Virginia round-leafed birch (Betula uber).


Bethlehem Wood with bluebells
Bethlehem Wood with the display of bluebells

The birch collection in Bethlehem Wood is the longest established and most comprehensive of Wakehurst’s four National Plant Collections. It is regarded by several experts as being the most comprehensive in cultivation anywhere. In 1999 it was awarded scientific status by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG), now the National Plant Collections.

Bringing together as many birch trees as possible provides the opportunity to observe the taxonomy, ornamental merit and cultivation requirements of the genus. The collection already contains several named forms of Betula utilis (e.g. Betula utilis var. jacquemontii ‘Sauwala White’ and ‘Grayswood Ghost’) and several of hybrid origin that have Betula utilis in their parentage (e.g. Betula ‘Inverleith’ and Betula ‘Jermyns’).

Dedicate a woodland area

Dedicating a woodland area will fund Kew's work in horticulture, and these woodland areas are available for a donation of £1000.

Your donation will be recorded with your personal dedication on the Commemorative Register at Wakehurst, located in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, and you will receive a certificate thanking you for your gift.

Make a dedication today