BORDERS' SPECIAL TREES IN THE SPOTLIGHT

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7 NOVEMBER 2003NEWS RELEASE No: 6393

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Eleven remarkable Borders trees that are featured in a new book about Scotland's 100 most special trees will receive star billing at an illustrated talk in Peebles next Thursday evening, November 20th.

East Lothian arboriculturist and veteran tree expert Donald Rodger is the author of the book, "Heritage Trees of Scotland", and will give the talk in the Burgh Hall at 7.30pm.

Mr Rodger's talk will be entitled "Heritage Trees of The Borders and Beyond". Tickets are priced 2 and are available from the Visitor Information Centre in the High Street, telephone 01721 723159, and copies of the book will be on sale at the event.

Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Eastgate Theatre & Arts Centre project, which is providing a new performing arts centre in Peebles, and the event is part of Forestry Commission Scotland's annual programme of public events in Lothian and the Borders.

Peebles-shire is a "hotspot" of Heritage Trees, with seven of the trees featured in the book growing in the district.

Mr Rodger, who is an authority on Scotland's veteran trees, wrote the book with assistance from Jon Stokes of the Tree Council and James Ogilvie of the Forestry Commission Scotland.

The book grew out of the Heritage Trees of Scotland Internet promotion organised as part of Treefest Scotland 2002, a year-long festival of more than 800 events held to celebrate Scotland's trees, woods and forests. It was a contribution to Treefest by the Commission, and the 100 trees in the book were selected by an expert panel of judges from more than 150 candidates, many of which were brought to the judges' attention by members of the public.

The Commission's Conservator of Forests for Lothian and the Borders, Alex Morris, said,

    "The selection of these 100 does not imply that other trees on the 'shortlist' were in any way unworthy. Because our judges were considering such an embarrassment of riches, they found it extremely difficult to select the final 100.

    "We continue to promote all the candidate trees on the Heritage Trees of Scotland website, and in fact we believe there are many more special trees out there that we don't know about yet. I would therefore invite anyone who knows of any other special trees in Scotland that are not featured on the Heritage Trees website to write in and tell us about them."

The address to write to about other potential heritage trees is: Heritage Trees of Scotland, C/o James Ogilvie, Forestry Commission Scotland, 231 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 7AT; e-mail: james.ogilvie@forestry.gsi.gov.uk. The information should include a precise location (an Ordnance Survey reference is best) and the reasons why the trees are special.
  • The book costs 9.99 and is available by mail, phone, fax or e-mail order to Forestry Commission Publications, P.O. Box 25, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7EW; telephone: 0870 121 4180; fax: 0870 121 4181; e-mail: forestry@twoten.press.net. Cheques, made payable to the Forestry Commission, should be included with mail orders.

NOTES TO EDITOR:

The 11 Heritage Trees of Scotland in the Borders are:
    • Dawyck Silver Fir - This fine silver fir in Dawyck Botanic Garden, near Peebles, boasts one of the earliest known planting dates for this species. Its trunk measures 172cm (5ft 7in) in diameter and 5.4 metres (17ft 9in) in girth, and the tree is 35m (115 feet) tall. Although it is becoming rather tattered and straggly, it is a good Scottish example of Europe's principal fir, now seldom planted here following the introduction of the diversity of species from north-west America in the nineteenth century.
    • Dawyck Larch - One of the few surviving larches introduced to Scotland in 1725 by Sir James Naesmyth also stands in Dawyck Botanic Garden. This is one of the earliest surviving plantings in Scotland of a species that was ultimately to have a big impact on commercial forestry in Scotland. It measures 4.46 metres (14ft 7in) in girth and 33 metres (108 feet) tall, and is still a fine tree. Sir James was a renowned collector of trees from around the world and his early plantings were to establish the fine collection that forms the Dawyck Botanic Garden.
    • Dawyck Beech - This towering specimen in the Dawyck Botanic Garden is the progenitor of this particular botanical variety of beech. It was first discovered by a sharp-eyed forester in 1860. Its narrow, upright form is immediately obvious. At almost 30 metres (98 feet) tall, the original specimen is still in good health and has maintained its tight crown of ascending branches. It is a tree with a uniquely Scottish pedigree that has become famous the world over.
    • The Posso Sycamores - Two very large trees standing in a remote Peebles-shire glen near Posso. The vast trunk of one measures an astonishing 2.7 metres (9 feet) in diameter and 8.5 metres (28 feet) in girth, and is one of the largest trees for its species so far recorded. These fine trees are first-class examples of a species that has readily naturalised in Scotland.
    • The Kailzie Larch - The oldest surviving larches in Scotland date from 1725. One of the finest specimens can be found in the delightful Kailzie Gardens, near Peebles. This was planted by the then Laird, Sir James Nasmyth. In good health, its trunk measures 1.37 metres (4ft 6in) in diameter and 4.26 metres (14ft 1in) in girth, and the height is 32 metres (105ft). Other larches dating from 1725 can be found on the nearby Border estates of Stobo and Dawyck.
    • The Traquair House Yews - a close group of four very old and ancient yews in the grounds of Traquair House at Innerleithen, near Peebles. They have heavily contorted trunks of weird and outlandish shapes, creating a distinctive atmosphere
    • The Tinnis Ash - About five miles west of Selkirk on the A708 stands what must be Scotland's oldest ash tree. The partially collapsed remains of what was clearly an exceptionally large specimen are still very much alive, and this ancient veteran continues to thrive in its rural setting. It is estimated that the trunk might have originally measured 9 or 10 metres (29 - 33 feet) in girth before it became so rotten that it eventually collapsed, and part was lost. The remaining fragments present an intriguing framework of sculptural beauty. Ash as a species is not known for its longevity or great size, but in exceptional circumstances it is clearly capable of both. The tree forms part of an important remnant of wood pasture within Bowhill Estate.
    • The Capon Tree - With a vast trunk circumference of 10 metres (33 feet), this spectacular veteran oak has split and decayed, and now relies on substantial props for support. Standing beside the A68 highway just outside Jedburgh, it is a lone survivor of the once extensive Jed Forest, which clothed the Teviot Valley in centuries past. Its unusual name is thought to have arisen from a corruption of the name of the Capuchin Order of monks, who used to shelter under its capacious canopy en route to Jedburgh Abbey. It is one of the Borders' famous "named" trees and a well known sight to travellers.
    • St Boswell's Apple - One of Scotland's largest and oldest crab apple trees (Malus sylvestris) stands in a field near St Boswells. The huge trunk measures 77cm (2ft 6in) in diameter and the crown reaches 10.2 metres (33ft 5in) in height. This tree is fine old example of our native species of apple.
    • The Dryburgh Abbey Yew - Within the tranquil ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, near St Boswells, stands an ancient yew tree. It is alleged to have been planted by monks in 1136, thus predating the foundation of the abbey by Hugh de Moreville in 1150. The planting of yew trees at places of religious worship was common practice, and it does seem feasible that the rather modest specimen at Dryburgh might have been a precursor of the ostentatious abbey that was ultimately to over-shadow it. Historical growth measurements indicate that it had a very slow rate of growth, suggesting that it could indeed have originated in the twelfth century. Despite its alleged great age, it is an unassuming specimen of no great size, with a trunk diameter of 1.23 metres (4 feet) and girth of 3.85 metres (12ft 8in).
    • The Polwarth Thorn - The village of Polwarth was abandoned many years ago and little evidence remains of its existence. However, the famous Polwarth thorns that once stood in pride of place on the village green still survive. In days of yore newly married couples used to dance around the ancient thorn tree, a local custom and tradition that continued for centuries. Indeed, the trees were immortalised by the poet Allan Ramsey (1686-1758) in his poem 'Polwarth, On The Green': "At Polwarth on the Green, if you'll meet me in the morn, where lads and lasses do convene, to dance around the thorn.". The original thorn tree has died, but has been replaced by its own saplings over the years. Two thorn trees still occupy the same site, enclosed within iron railings.
  1. "Heritage Trees of Scotland" was published by a partnership of the Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Tree Council. It is a companion publication to "Great British Trees", which features 50 of the United Kingdom's most remarkable trees and was published by the Tree Council in 2002 to mark the Queen's golden jubilee.
  2. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Executive's forestry department.

Media contact: Charlton Clark, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0131 314 6507; mobile 07810 181067

e-mail: charlton.clark@forestry.gsi.gov.uk