Trees at Bonskeid House


Brush over and/ or click on any circular tree (there are 102!) to find out what it is!

Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Scots Pine Sweet Chestnut Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Yew Douglas Fir Noble Fir Silver Fir Variegated Holly Sawara Cypress Sawara Cypress Sweet Chestnut Golden Yew Monterey Cypress European Larch Copper Beech Douglas Fir Sweet Chestnut Sweet Chestnut Sycamore Western Hemlock Noble Fir Western Hemlock Western Hemlock Noble Fir European Larch Norway Spruce Giant Sequoia Lawson Cypress European Larch Giant Sequoia Red Maple Variegated Holly Yew Incense Cedar Deodar Cedar Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Noble Fir Douglas Fir European Larch Western Red Cedar Western Red Cedar European Larch European Larch Grand Fir European Larch Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Nootka Cypress Western Red Cedar Noble Fir Douglas Fir Silver Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Norway Spruce Norway Spruce Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Silver Fir Silver Fir Norway Spruce Western Red Cedar Japanese Cedar Grand Fir Douglas Fir Douglas Fir Norway Spruce Norway Spruce Noble Fir Western Red Cedar Common Lime Western Hemlock Sweet Chestnut Crimean Pine Hiba Sweet Chestnut Sweet Chestnut Western Hemlock Lawson Cypress Forrest's Fir Scots Pine Western Red Cedar Scots Pine Giant Sequoia Giant Sequoia


History of Trees

The range of trees at YMCA Bonskeid House is diverse with 39 noted species noted in all during a recent survey. The Douglas Fir is significant in number, with 31 out of the main 102 trees noted, but also well represented are Sweet Chestnut, European Larch, Noble Fir, Norway Spruce and Western Red Cedar.
The oldest tree is the Stewart Larch planted in 1795 by Alexander Stewart, who owned Bonskeid House at the time. It came from seed from European Larches introduced in 1737 from the Tyrol at the Duke of Atholl's grounds in Dunkeld.
Many conifers are north west American in source, originally introduced into the UK between 1826 and 1853, but at Bonskeid mainly between 1870 and 1880, by George Freeland Barbour, who extended the house and built roads and paths in the grounds by 1869 and planted for landscaping effect, following a policy common among Scottish country houses of importing exotic species. Unusual examples include the Hiba, Japanese Cedar and Incense Cedar. So most trees were located to the west of the house and around the informal garden in informal groups and small groves for effect. So the conifers are approaching full maturity.
Sweet Chestnut trees, a more recent acquisition, were well planted throughout the grounds and is the most dominant of the broadleaved trees. The Monterey Copper are also more recent. Beech and Sycamore were deliberately planted to be prominent in front of the house. The Single Red Maple is also represented.
Native trees which have colonised naturally include Gean, Hawthorn, Birch, Rowan, Alder, Ash, Oak, Goat Willow and Hazel. Beech was introduced and planted.


Latin names

Giant Sequoia - Sequoia Giganteum
Scots Pine - Pinus Sylvestris
Western Red Cedar - Thuya Plicata
Forrest's Fir - Abies Forrestii
Lawson Cypress - Chamoecyparis Lawsoniana
Western Hemlock - Tsuga Hetrophylla
Sweet Chestnut - Castanea Sativa
Hiba - Thujopsis Dolobrata
Crimean Pine - Pinus Nigra Var Caramanica Common Lime - Tilia X Europaea
Noble Fir - Abies Procera
Norway Spruce - Picea Abies
Douglas Fir - Pseudotsuga Menziesii
Grand Cedar - Abies Grandis Japanese Cedar - Cryptomeria Japonica
Silver Fir - Abieas Alba
Nootka Cypress - Chamaecyparis Nootkatensis
European Larch - Larix Decidua
Deodar Cedar - Cedrus Deodara
Incense Cedar - Calocedrus Decurrens
Taxus Baccata
Variegated Holly - Ilex Aquifolium
Red Maple - Acer Rubrum
Sycamore - Acer Pseudoplanatus
Copper Beech - Fagus Sylvatica 'Purpurea'
Monterey Cypress - Cupressus Macrocarpa
Golden yew - Taxus Baccata 'Elegantissima'
Sawara Cypress - Chamaecyparis Pisifera 'Plumosa'


YMCA Bonskeid House Grounds Project

There is an ongoing project in the grounds of Bonskeid House to build upon the potential of the woodland. Aims include developing the biodiversity of the woodland except where harmful and thus conserving the woodland for future generations. Being well managed should make it more visually appealing to visitors and the locality and make it a wildlife haven.
Natural regeneration happens in the native woodland area where the Rhododendron Ponticum is cleared. This means native species developing and also exotics where desired.
At the same time non-native trees are removed, but controlled within the semi-natural woodland area.
Species that regenerate have to be protected, and some exotic species need replanting in the policy woodland for its maintenance. This assists the biological diversity of the woodland.
Open areas also need maintaining. This helps keep the diversity of habitat.
Public access is assisted through the maintenance and upgrading of existing paths. New routes get opened and the paths as a whole can be integrated into the Pitlochry network of footpaths. Access is also helped by improving signs and maps.
As all that grows and lives in the woodland is well documented, so the woodland becomes an important educational resource for visitors.
This ongoing work is itself monitored for improvement.


In 1999 the Scottish Woods and Forest Awards Commendation of the Hunter Blair Trophy went to YMCA Bonskeid House in the Small Woods category. This is given by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland for good forestry practice in harmony with the environment. Stephen Pratt was named as the Forest Manager.
The commendation states that a great deal of thought and effort has gone into restoring the old policy woodland for access and nature study for clients, schools and other educational bodies. This is done enthusiastically by Director and staff. The ongoing research will provide worthwhile information. Removing Rhododendron Ponticum is especially praiseworthy which opens up some fine specimin trees and allows native broad leaved woodland to revert to a more natural state. However, this is not easy, says the commendation, and should not rely on what seems to be low quality Ash trees. It suggests a landscape design strategy for cleared areas. It notes and praises the refurbishment of original woodland paths and Victorian seating, and the leaflets that interpret the walks. The woodland has a well presented aesthetic value.


Trees along the Bonskeid Drives

There is much to see even for the person who does not want to walk along paths through the woods which can, after all, be slippery at times or steeper in parts than you would like. Take a walk along the tarmac drives!
Starting at the Dining Hall, the first tree of note is the Stewart Larch. This was planted in 1795 by Alexander Stewart, who built Bonskeid House. Other larches of this batch were planted at Scone Palace and Blair Castle.
Further on lime, sycamore and sweet chestnut trees have been labelled in the semi-native ancient woodland. There is a western hemlock tree further on. The fact that owl pellets and droppings can be found there shows that there is a good flat nesting ledge in the branches above. A tree that has been high pruned is the giant sequoia or Wellingtonia. It is one of the imported trees - this from California around the 1850's. Continuing on, there are four mature lime trees at the entrance and exit to the grounds. Then, down the exit road are trees which have naturally regenerated but have been protected by tubes - being scots pine, oak, hazel, ash and Douglas Fir. However, beech and sycamore have been removed (because they are not native) along with all those rhododendrons.

A little trees pastime while at Bonskeid is to name the trees in English by looking at the labels. These are:

  • Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana
  • Taxus Baccata
  • Thuja Plicata
  • Sequoiadendron Giganteum
  • Cryptomeria Japonica
  • Larix Decidua
  • Picea Abies
  • Tsuga Heterophylla
  • Pseudotsuga Menziesii
  • Pinus Sylvestris
  • Betula Pendula
  • Fagus Sylvatica
  • Castanea Sativa
  • Quercus Robur
  • Prunus Avium
  • Acer Pseudoplatanus
  • Tilia X Vulgaris
  • Pinus Nigra
  • Thujopsis Dolabrata

The labels are, of course, given on this page!


Note that the official YMCA Bonskeid House website once contained articles on walks, orienteering in the grounds, and on woodland management (including the removal of Rhododendron Ponticum).