In winter, when there are very few flowers around and most of our native plants have lost their leaves, it is a wonderful opportunity to focus our attention on the conifers – most of which are evergreen and still bear cones.

The British flora is remarkably poor in diversity of native conifers but many introduced species form a major feature in our landscape. And here in the south east of England at Bedgebury Pinetum (Kent) we are fortunate to have the opportunity to study the finest world collection of this magnificent group of trees.

Saturday will be spent in and around Juniper Hall considering the key features of the different families and genera of conifers and how we might begin to separate the different species. Some specimens of different cones and foliage will be available here for study.

On Sunday we shall visit Bedgebury Pinetum and consolidate what we covered on Saturday. This is the time to build confidence in field recognition of the major genera and to practice looking for appropriate characters to confirm the species. We shall also explore the Pinetum for the unusual and uncommon members of this wonderful group of plants. The entrance charge to the Pinetum is included in the charge for the course.

This week-end is suitable for beginners and all those who love trees. No previous knowledge is assumed.


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Tutor: Mark Duffell

Mark Duffell has had a lifetime interest in plants, gaining the RHS Diploma in Horticulture and completing an MSc in Biological Recording. He now runs Arvensis Ecology, splitting his time between conducting botanical surveys and teaching botanical identification and survey techniques to undergraduate and postgraduate students, consultancies and environmental organisations.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Juniper Hall, please email [email protected]

Example Timetable

Start and finish times

Residential guests are welcome to arrive, register and settle into rooms any time between 14.30pm and 16.00pm on Friday. Non-residents should aim to be here by 16.00pm. Afternoon tea will be served at 16.00pm. A short welcome talk will take place at 18.30pm. You will then be shown into dinner at 18.45pm.

The course will begin with a classroom session at 16.30pm before supper and will finish after afternoon tea at approximately 18.00pm on Sunday.


The tutor will meet with you all and have an introductory session after you arrive around 16.30pm. At 18.30pm Juniper Hall staff will give you a short welcome talk before you head into dinner. After dinner, on the first day, there will be a classroom session focused on cone identification. This will finish around 21.30pm.

The day will begin around 9.30am with a practical classroom session focused on identification features of the foliage. This will lead into a field session in the Juniper Hall grounds putting into practice our identification skills. After lunch, we will walk through Mickleham village and back to Juniper Hall via the top of Mickleham Downs. After tea, we will sort out some of the look-alikes before going into dinner. There will be a slide presentation and quiz to complete the day.

This will be an early start between 8.30am and 9.00am travelling by minibus to Bedgebury. The tour of the Pinetum will be punctuated by several identification tests throughout the day. Upon returning to Juniper Hall there will be a short written knowledge test to achieve the accreditation for the course before departing (optional for those not seeking credit). The course will end at 18.00pm

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Lunch

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Before You Attend

Please bring the following with you if you can:

  • Hand lens (x10 magnification) - can be borrowed from the Centre.
  • Warm casual clothing.
  • Stout shoes or boots (wellies can be borrowed from the Centre).
  • Waterproofs (just in case!) –can be borrowed from the Centre.
  • Small rucksack or bag.
  • Lunchbox.
  • Water bottle and/or thermos flask.
  • Notepad and pens.
  • Binoculars if you have them.
  • Clear plastic ruler (available to borrow from the centre).