Do we know what trees are best for Caithness?
I can recall several "plantations" spread around the county, but they were mostly monoculture.
(1) Do we know which tree species are native to the county.
(2) Do "experts" recommend the planting of native species?
(3) Are there any actions being taken to plant native species, first by developing them in nurseries?
(4) or, am I "out to lunch?"
David, I can't speak as an expert, but can tell you what grows near me and what I have planted that grows well. I stay within a mile of the north coast, just east south east of Reay. There are no natural barriers between my land and the sea, so when the wind and rain come.........I'm sure you know!
During the past 20 years I've planted trees and shrubs that I think belong here, many are popular and relatively common. Other than elder and willow which grow anywhere in any conditions (handy to use as a shelter belt to get other trees started) far and away the hardiest is alder. Tough, beautiful, good for wildlife, it grows in dry, damp, or downright wet. Grows fast and recovers from severe windburn. I find beech very good if started behind something else, also silver and downy birch. Hawthorn is slow and suffers from the windburn, but gets there eventually. This year I am being rewarded with a host of mayflowers on a small stand of hawthorn that I planted 15 years ago. They are behind a SE facing shed and are 15 foot tall, covered in insects and birds. Other trees that I've planted with success and not much shelter- rowan, sycamore, ash, whitebeam, wild cherry ( rampant if it likes you!)and maple (but not in a really poor spring). I have planted holly in various places with limited success, although I have one that came from Inverness and it is indestructible. It flowers like mad every year. It's been chopped off at ground level twice and grows back up to the house eaves in no time. I should take cuttings and pass it round the county, it's a splendid bushy tree.
I live near a very large area that was planted up with a mixture of pines and firs with broadleaves and bushes round the outside. It is an appalling waste of good farmland and an absolute disaster. It was planted up in a particularly dry July a few years ago. The parts that were done mechanically were drought stricken because the planting cut opened up and exposed the little roots to the air. It has to be one of the worst forests planted. It's always had rabbits and deer in it, and sheep and cattle belonging to the estate that owns it, you can imagine the devasting effects of all that. Some areas were replanted but they are still struggling to get above the long grass and weeds. I suppose I'm trying to say thay you really need to work with young trees and help them in the first few years. You can't just plant them and leave them to it.
I know there are other trees growing in Caithness, I've outlined the ones I like and grow. I did wonder if there would be a market locally for small quantities of young trees. I guess if they start their life here they will have a better chance of growing out well. It is something I might pursue.
Shrubs that do really well here- flowering currant, all the field and hedge roses, ordinary fuchsia, escallonia, cotoneaster, and on our rough land are hundreds of tiny willows no taller than a foot which have an incredible amount of pussy-willow every spring follwed by a profusion of fluffy seeds that blow everywhere. It's wonderful and I know I'm lucky and blessed to be near it.
Hope you are back from 'lunch', take a packed one next time and sit near a tree.
I've no seen many oak trees up here do they grow well in this area ?
I've tried oak a few times and had to give up. They seem quite soft when they are young. My neighbour has a smallish one in her hedge, but it's not one of those splendidly, magnificent sorts. It's got rubbishy little leaves that only just look like oak ones. Perhaps further inland and among other tall and wonderful trees but I haven't seen one yet
Thanks for the reply susie I've planted one in ma garden with a horse chestnut finger crossed eh !
I hope both your lovely trees grow like billy-oh and give you immense pleasure over the years. I'm sure that if you care for and care about them then they will do fine.
My favourite tree is the silver birch-it has a certain delicate, shimmering quality that speaks to me somehow. I love all trees though, splendid plants indeed.
Caithness may well be a challenging county in which to grow trees but it's worth the effort, always. I wish everyone could plant a tree every year. I applaud what is being achieved at Dunnet Forest.
I'm a great lover of trees oaks tend to be my favourite hence the attempt to get one growing here. But I've planted 2 nice copper beeches a couple of maples and I've got a wee monkey puzzle tucked away hoping that will get going. At the back of my place I've put quite a few rowans maples, birches in so with a bit of luck and some fine weather I should have a nice wee grove :0)