Mary Queen of Scots tree shortlisted for Scottish Tree of the Year 2014
The contest, organised by Woodland Trust Scotland, is an annual search to find the nation's best loved tree. This year, six trees have been nominated by groups around Scotland and now members of the public are invited to place their vote before the deadline of 26 October 2014. The winning tree will go forward to compete for European Tree of the Year 2015.
Carol Evans, director of the Woodland Trust Scotland, said: 'Tree of the Year is all about finding trees that are at the heart of local communities and that can bring people together.
'Scotland’s grand old trees are as important as listed buildings or monuments but currently lack the same level of protection. By sharing stories and encouraging people to value them we can raise awareness of the need to protect these trees, so that their stories can be passed on to future generations.'
SCOTTISH TREE OF THE YEAR SHORTLIST
Lady’s Tree, Loch of the Lowes, Perthshire
Nominated by the Scottish Wildlife Trust
This Scots pine (pictured right) on a nature reserve in Perthshire is part of a conservation success story. For the past 24 years an osprey affectionately known by many as ‘Lady’ has been returning to a nest in its branches. Over this time she has laid 71 eggs and fledged 50 chicks, and a webcam on the tree attracts over 1 million viewers a year in over 160 different countries.
Lady’s Tree is an integral part of the successful osprey breeding at Loch of the Lowes.
The Kissing Beech, Kilvarock Estate, Inverness-shire
Nominated by the Ancient Tree Inventory
This very rare, layering beech, known as the Kissing Beech, is five metres in girth and of considerable age. It recalls an incident where a member of an early Lord’s family and a housemaid were seen embracing illicitly under its cloaking branches.
Lovers have carved their initials in the trunk ever since, the smooth pale bark encompassing their declarations of love. It should be celebrated as a true ‘trysting’ tree where love has been celebrated under its boughs over the centuries.
The Fortingall Yew, Fortingall, Perthshire
Nominated by Glen Lyon History Society
At between 2,000 to 3,000 years old the Yew (pictured top) is thought to be the oldest living tree in Britain, and one of the oldest in Europe. It is thought to have been revered as a sacred tree as far back as the Bronze Age and was the focus of Beltane fires right into the nineteenth century. The tree has been damaged by fortune hunters, fires and the ravages of time but it is still in good health. It is a major tourist attraction in Highland Perthshire.
The Clachan Oak, Balfron, Stirling
Nominated by Balfron Community Council
Known locally as the Hanging Tree, the oak stands on the common green of the hamlet which grew to become the village of Balfron.
There is debate as to whether William Wallace or Rob Roy sheltered under the tree, but as both had local connections – some 400 years apart - it could have accommodated both. The oak has undergone extensive work to improve its condition and ensure that it remains the living emblem of Balfron for many years to come.
Queen Mary’s Tree, Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire
Nominated by Cumbernauld Community Council
Queen Mary’s Tree (left) is named after Mary Queen of Scots, who is reputed to have planted the tree in 1561 while visiting Cumbernauld Castle, the family home of one of her ladies-in-waiting.
Over the centuries as the tree has stood and grown much has changed in its surroundings. Cumbernauld Castle was replaced by Cumbernauld House in 1731, designed by William Adam. The creation of the new town of Cumbernauld in 1956 meant that even more local visitors were able to enjoy the park and the tree.
The Gowk Tree, Moffat, Dumfries & Galloway
Nominated by Moffat Wildlife Club
The Reverend John Walker, known as the ‘Mad Minister of Moffat’, was local minister from 1762-1783. His reputation for eccentricity stemmed from the fact that he carried seedlings in a pouch and planted them wherever he went.
The Rev. John planted an umbrella fir near an oak tree which was a favourite ‘calling post’ for cuckoos. As he did he remarked to the oak, that it would still be standing after the fir was long gone. His words rang true as 200 years later the tree is still standing.
HOW TO VOTE FOR YOUR SCOTTISH TREE OF THE YEAR
To place your vote, visit the Woodland Trust website and place your vote before 26 October 2014.