The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

Forest tree planting in Scotland

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2. Gardening to Scotland, in respect to the planting of Timber Trees and hedges 692. Scotland in ancient times was clothed with extensive tracts of wood. (Graham, in Gen. Rep. of Scot, vol. ii.) By various operations carried on by the hand of nature and of man, this clothing has been in a great measure destroyed. The attempts to restore it by planting timber, however, appear to be of recent origin. Dr. Walker seems to be of opinion that the elder (Sambucus nigra) was the first barren tree planted in Scotland; and that the plane or sycamore was the next. The wood of the former was in much request for making arrows. 'A few chestnuts and beeches,' he adds, 'were first planted in gardens not long before the middle of the seventeenth century, some of which have remained to our times.' Notwithstanding this high authority, however, there seems to be good reason to conclude that some trees which still exist were planted before the Reformation; they appear to have been introduced by the monks, being found for the most part in ecclesiastical establishments. Such are the Spanish chestnuts, the most of which are still in a thriving condition in the island of Inchmahoma, in the lake of Monteith, in Perthshire, where there was a priory built by David I. Some of these chestnut trees measure within a few inches of eighteen feet in circumference, at six feet from the ground. They are probably three hundred years old, or upwards. There are planted oaks at Buchanan, which are apparently of the same age.