On Tuesday 28th February 2017, a team of horticultural students visited the Palace grounds to plant 30 young oak trees, provided by the Tay Landscape Partnership and supervised by Scone Palace head gardener Brian Cunningham.
The impressive landscaped grounds of Scone Palace were originally laid out between c.1790 and 1812. In the late 18th Century, Thomas White the Elder designed a scheme which required many of the very old oak trees to be felled. This enraged the second Earl, who started planting to replace them. His son, David, the 3rd Earl of Mansfield, is said to have planted over 2,863,000 trees.
In 1885 an article in the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener praised the park and described the 'magnificent trees which are monuments of past ages'. This description would still be apt today. The trees along the old driveway were probably planted in the mid-18th century, with most of the other trees on the estate added between 1800 and 1840. The open ‘deer park’ planting of Scone Palace parkland is typical of many Perthshire estates, and includes native species such as oak, beech, lime, sweet chestnut and copper beech, many having grown to a great age.
Scone Palace's head gardener Brian Cunningham said: “A recent review of the trees identified several giant specimens which have grown too fragile or have been damaged by storms. The new oak trees are the first of many young trees to be planted at Scone Place, as part of an ongoing programme in partnership with the National Tree Collections of Scotland to restore this historic landscape and ensure it remains magnificent for many years to come.”
The planting of 30 young oak trees at Scone is being funded by the Tay Landscape Partnership, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Community Environment Challenge Fund.
The Tay Landscape Partnership formed to work with local communities to improve walking and cycling access, conserve historic sites and wildlife, and share the history, stories, countryside and traditional skills of this local area. Catriona Davies, Access & Biodiversity Project Officer, Tay Landscape Partnership commented: “This is a great opportunity to help revitalise the historic park land at Scone Palace, with native trees that will be of huge benefit to wildlife for decades. TayLP is all about getting people involved in their local environment, so I’m delighted that the students from Perth College have been able to come out and help plant the trees today.”
Dr Robert Boyd, programme leader and lecturer in science and the environment at the University of the Highland and Islands Perth College, said: “This is a great experience for students, contributing to the designed landscape of an important historic estate. It’s an excellent opportunity to put a whole range of techniques they have acquired into practice. Not only are they engaging with a worthwhile community project but they’re improving their employability skills for the future.”