Perthshire is famed the world over as Big Tree Country and the estate here at Dunkeld House Hotel is awash with some of the finest examples of Scottish rare trees. In particularly our collection of Larches which can be found in forests all over the world! You see, within the grounds of our estate an important piece of natural history was formed; the first larch trees to be planted in Scotland were bought for the Tyrol by Mr Menzies of Culdares and given to James, the second Duke, who had them planted in the west end of Dunkeld Cathedral in 1738, and it is here that you will still find the ‘Parent Larch’, one of the UK’s most prominent and important trees.
Adjacent to the hotel grounds are the Kennel Bank larches forming a shallow crescent on the north side of the main driveway. They contain trees grown from the seed of the Parent Larch, and 11 of the original Japanese larches (Larix kaempferi) which represent the first of the species to be brought to Scotland by the 7th Duke of Atholl in 1785 when a total of 14 were planted. Natural hybridisation between the European and Japanese larches at this spot gave rise to the Dunkeld larch, which on account of its hardiness was to revolutionise Scottish forestry. The new Dunkeld Larch flourished and became the parent to a large proportion of those now found all over Atholl Estates.
The dukes also experimented with planting different trees on such a scale that they became known as the ‘Planting Dukes’. Between 1738 and 1830 they planted some 27 million conifers around the area and are responsible for many awe inspiring trees within Dunkled, Birnam and Atholl estate. Unsurprisingly then, you will also find within our grounds, many other British record breaking trees, including the largest girth Douglas fir – some 7m wide! – the tallest red fir and a sequoia from the first batch imported to Britain. This glorious and diverse planting has in a huge way contributed to Perthshire’s moniker of Big Tree Country.
More recently our grounds have played host to trees for the iCONic project. One of the first project sites to be planted was an area of woodland in the grounds, adjacent to the famous Dunkeld Cathedral where they enjoy the good company of our UK champion Douglas fir and a champion Nordmann fir. Ten new trees were planted in total with two of the four species planted never having been grown here before. Could they be the Champions of the future?