Bartlett Tree Experts announces new arboretum, research lab

A rendering of the new research lab provided by Snug Architects.
A rendering of the new research lab provided by Snug Architects.

Bartlett Tree Experts has announced it will build a new arboretum and research facility in Spencers Wood, a village south of Reading in the Borough of Wokingham, Berkshire, England. The new Bartlett Tree Experts Arboretum and UK Research Laboratory is expected to be operational in late 2025, with construction commencing this December.

The impacts of a warming climate have increased the risks of detrimental plant insects and diseases worldwide, posing significant risks to environmental sustainability and the health of trees. From its founding by Francis A. Bartlett in 1907, with a focus on species-specific scientific tree care and preservation, Bartlett Tree Experts has continually made investments to expand its research and educational capabilities in the field of arboriculture and urban forestry. 

Bartlett’s new arboretum and laboratory will serve as a world-class research, diagnostic, and educational centre for Bartlett clients and arborists in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The laboratory building will include office, research, diagnostic, and lecture space. Surrounding the laboratory, Bartlett’s arboretum will be a “living museum,” featuring spectacular environmentally tolerant collections of rare and unusual trees and other woody plants, woodland walking trails, and native wildlife habitats. Enhancing the biodiversity of the site, the grounds will also provide testing plots for long-term arboricultural research trials and study.

Robert A. Bartlett, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bartlett Tree Experts, said, “Developing our new arboretum and research lab in the United Kingdom will provide our research scientists and plant pathologists with the enhanced, state-of-the-art capabilities to conduct the most advanced research and testing, allowing them to advise our arborists on the latest advances in arboriculture.”

When completed, the 50-acre arboretum and research laboratory in Spencers Wood will complement the R.A. Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories & Arboretum in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. First opened in 1965, with an additional new lab building constructed in 2022, Bartlett’s Charlotte research facility provides Bartlett scientists in fields such as plant pathology, entomology, genetics, and horticulture with molecular testing and other advanced diagnostic and research capabilities.

Bartlett’s Arboretum in Charlotte includes over 366 acres of tree and other woody plant collections and ongoing research trials; with expansive collections of over twenty-six thousand accessioned plants in fourteen major groups. The arboretum holds one of the largest collections of holly in the United States, along with extensive collections of elm (Ulmus), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia), maple (Acer), witch-hazel (Hamamelis), linden (Tilia), and boxwood (Buxus). Seven collections are accredited through the Plant Collections Network, including the largest collection of Magnolia cultivars in the world. In 2022, Bartlett Tree Experts purchased a 17-acre arboretum and research lab site west of Portland, Oregon, in Cornelius, with more than 1,000 accessioned plants, including conifers, maples, dogwoods and rare species from around the world.

Speaking of the new arboretum in the United Kingdom, Patrick Franklin, Vice President of Special Operations, said, “We are excited to make this investment in a new lab and arboretum in the United Kingdom. The location will provide a perfect foundation to create a thriving space for the study of trees. We look forward to seeing the botanical wonderland that will thrive here and the advances our continued plant healthcare research will bring for clients and arborists.”

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