RELEASE the party poppers – it’s exactly 10 years since I started writing weekly features for the News & Mail! Each week, starting in February 2013, I compiled a “what’s on” page, which also included articles on places to go or things to do.

The first of those featured Onslow Arboretum, which I still think of as a “hidden gem”. It appears few people have heard of it, but everyone is enthusiastic when they visit.

In fact, I discovered it accidentally while viewing an online aerial view of the Onslow area of Guildford and noticed a footpath meandering around an area of grassland interspersed with trees. I had to go and see what was there.

Tucked between Onslow Village and the A3 on the outskirts of Guildford, Onslow Arboretum is a great place for a short walk that takes you through pleasant green parkland amidst a variety of fascinating trees. The single path follows a circuit of the arboretum.

It takes less than half-an-hour, even including a few pauses to discover the species of particular trees.

The path is suitable for wheelchairs and baby buggies, and it’s next to Onslow Recreation Ground, a large open green space with an excellent playground that will delight little ones.

The arboretum was planted in 1995 by Guildford Borough Council, following an idea from Merrist Wood College. Themed “Around the World in Eighty Trees”, the collection is grouped in areas according to the continents where they originated.

An information board at the entrance gate lists the tree species within each continental group.

The central grassland area is populated sparingly with ornamental trees including attractive pyramidal conifers. Areas outside the path are left to grow to maturity as self-seeding wildflower meadows.

Seats and totem structures are positioned at intervals around the site, each one designed, carved, painted and installed in 2005 by a group of creative youngsters on Guildford Borough Council’s FISH (Fun In the Summer Holidays) play scheme.

The arboretum’s only downside is a continuous drone of traffic noise from the busy A3 which runs along the northern boundary of the site.

The Onslow Village Residents’ Association (OVRA) has an online photo album of the arboretum. To view it, visit and click on Onslow Arboretum under the Community tab.

Clicking the map on that page will download a list compiled by two local residents of the many tree species planted there, with a sketch showing their locations. It’s worth printing this before your visit.