There’s more to conifers than Leylandii and Christmas trees! This one-day workshop will introduce you to the commonly-found conifers, and will show you how to work out which is which. We will start with the absolute basics of identifying Conifers, so if you currently have very little idea which is which, this is the course for you! We will spend the morning in the classroom with a selection of specimens, learning how to use a hand lens to locate the small features which you will need, in order to sort out your Tsuga from your Pseudotsuga. In the afternoon we will be going on a field trip through Bushy Park, where you will run around like mad things, gleefully identifying the many specimen conifers which we have growing in the Royal Park. As well as learning the more formal side of tree identification, we will learn, in passing, about Cedrus and Larix, those two swotty Latin schoolboys; why a red-bearded Scotsman can help you to remember a name, and which Pine tree not to stand under, in high winds. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: The Tree Name Trail.

Course objectives:

Delegates will also have gained a clear understanding of how to use a simple Botanical Key, and will be able to use the Tree Name Trail with confidence, allowing you to identify common conifers with ease. You will also have learned how a Crib (Table of Differences) works, and how to create your own, which you can then use to make identification quicker, easier and more fun! Delegates will also understand the benefits and limitations of using various reference materials, and the importance of personalising your own reference books; and hopefully will have learned that although Conifers are a difficult group of trees to identify, they are not quite as bad as they seemed. In addition, delegates will have been introduced to botanical nomenclature (“Latin Is Not Your Enemy”), which is more fun than it sounds.

Tutor: Rachel Cassidy

Rachel Cassidy is a Professional Gardener, Plantsmith, Field Botanist, Consultant Forensic Horticulturalist, gardening Journalist, and Author, having published over two dozen Botany and Gardening books, including introductions to identifying Conifers and Broadleaved Trees. In addition, she writes regularly about gardening on her website, .Rachel makes it her mission to demystify botany for beginners and improvers, aiming to simplify, without dumbing down. Trees have been her passion for many years, and she loves to pass on her knowledge and enthusiasm for these gentle giants of the landscape!

Example Timetable

09.30 Registration
10.00 Welcome, health and safety and introduction
10.15 Morning session
13.00 Lunch
13.30 Afternoon session
15.50 Taking your interest further and course reviews
16.00 Course finishes

All timings are approximate. This is an outline programme and may be subject to change according to the weather, requirements of the group or access restrictions to field sites on the day of the course. Our courses include some classroom sessions but field visits may be a few hours long and involve walking over uneven ground.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Hot and Cold Drinks

Before You Attend

What to bring

  • Sensible clothing for the weather
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Lunch and Drinks (refreshments are provided)


  • A hand lens
  • Tree ID guide(s)