Mustila’s Alppiruusulaakso (Rhododendron Valley) provides a hint of the feeling in a true beech forest. In the Valley’s warm rich soil and protected by other trees there is a single large beech and a couple of younger trees in much better condition than the specimens on Etelärinne (Southern slope), where they freeze down to snow level in cold winters.
Beeches are at their best in spring, when a magical green light filters through the young leaves, and again in October in their copper and bronze autumn colour. Traditionally, hardy beech provenances have been sought from the northernmost parts of their range in Sweden. But since the 2005 Mustila seed-collecting expedition to Slovakia, the Arboretum has looked for hardy provenances from eastern Europe’s mountain ranges, where the species is known to tolerate temperatures down to -40C in places.