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Tree planting in Shetland

Guest Anonymous

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I've done a fair bit of tree planting and maintenance of 'wooded' areas during my time as a landscape gardener, and there's many problems with planting trees in essentially wild areas of Shetland




The trees are too young when planted. Small sappling trees are fairly cheap, but have a poor chance of success in Shetland's harsh climate. The price of trees rises dramatically the more mature they get, but stand a far better chance of becoming established. Unfortunately, it seems that folk who plan the plantations prefer to go for large numbers of small trees, with poor results (I remember when the trees were planted at the back of Clickimin. The focus was on quantity, not quality, and the result speaks for itself)


Lack of cover from wind. Trees planted on the side of a hill or in open areas are battered by strong winds throughout the year and tend to grow very unevenly, if at all. Trees planted in a lea or near a wall etc tend to do a lot better. Another option (as was mentioned earlier) is to plant hardy bushes first, providing a degree of shelter


Cold. A cold snap can kill off young trees before they are established. There's not much can be done about that, apart from plant more mature trees


Lack of maintenance. Young trees need to have competing vegetation (usually grass) trimmed back regularly. However, that is a very time consuming business as you can't take a strimmer too near, so much of the work has to be done by pulling out grass by hand




In essence, more mature trees should be planted in areas with better shelter and more time should be spent on maintaining their planted areas

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One further addition would be not to plant trees directly where they will get a covering of salt spray from the sea on windy days. This however, is not always an easy thing to do in Shetland ;)


Exactly! The few trees that do survive in the south end where salt spray can, and does drift coast to coast often, look like a weird cross between a bonzai and a proper tree, the fresh growth on top gets burned off by the salt most winters, so the trees end up growing horizontally. I they live long enough they'll also end up with 75+% of their growth towards the east, which tends to render them a bit unstable, not to mention very strange looking.

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The amenity trust have a couple of plantations around the place, not just the one at the clickimin. The Valarye burn site is small but from what i can tell it's flourishing. Just foes to show that new trees will grow if sheltered and protected from chewing creatures. The other one that interests me is the Burn Oo Twa Roes near Collafirth, it's a good bit bigger with a couple of reasonable sized burns flowing through it. It's in a valley and hopefully well enough protected from the wind and salt spray that the trees will have chance, it'll be a beautiful place to talk in a few years time.


I mentioned on a different thread that potential monies raised from any windfarm should be used through the various trusts. Perhaps the amenity trust could make a large plantation in the Lang Kames on the upper side of the road to hide the windfarm. The Kames could be a lovely drive if you were in the shade of a few trees??

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anybody consider the beaver?


Also can ghostrider give us a side one view of his triumph?


ta in anticipation sip sip sip


ps I think that sheep eat grass!? Maybe I am wrong here but I think they are grazing animals. Also I love you all>>>>>>>>...........


eat grass or even smoke it

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Any hints for wind / salt resistant breeds?


Fairly sure my parents have had good success with Japanese Larch? They also have a couple of other species working out for them too and they are in a place that gets beaten by the sea. I will endeavor to report back.

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Any hints for wind / salt resistant breeds?

I'd like to try some at the back of my house, hopefully with some plastic mesh to shlter them from the wind and keep the rabbits away...

Suggested to us:




• Acer pseudoplatanus - sycamore.

• Alnus glutinosa - common alder.

• Alnus incana - grey alder - both like wet ground and a little shelter.

• Fraxinus excelsior - common ash, large tree needs some shelter.

• Fuschia magellanica Ricartonii - 'Shetland' fuschia.

• Larix leptolepis - Japanese larch, deciduous conifer.

• Lonicera involucrata - shrubby honeysuckle, large shrub, yellow flowers.

• Olearia haastii - daisybush, large shrub, evergreen, white flowers.

• Ribes sanguineum - flowering currant.

• Rosa canina - wild dogrose, single pink flowers.

• Rosa rugosa - Japanese briar - grown widely in Shetland, magenta or white flowers in variety 'alba'.

• Salix species and varieties - willows, like damp soil, best to establish from unrooted cuttings pushed in where you want them to grow - take a look around and see what grows in other people's gardens - they might let you have cuttings.

• Sorbus aucuparia - rowan, small tree.

• Sorbus aria - common whitebeam, medium tree, large white flowerheads.

• Sorbus intermedia - Swedish whitebeam, as above.

• Sambucus nigra - common elder, stands a lot of exposure.

• Ulmus glabra - Scotch elm, large tree.


We've planted sycamore, sitka spruce, lodge pole pine, rowan, alder, elder, sitka alder, black cottonwood, rosa rugosa, willow, Japanese larch, whitebeam to name but a few.


Really hardy are sitka alder and black cottonwood.


Use bone meal and muck/compost when planting. Keep the base clear of weeds - treat like a plant to start off with. Use shelter netting until established. Most of our first trees were small - the daffodils were bigger!



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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh yeah. I forgot about this and to "report back"! :roll:


The trees doing well for my parents are the Swedish Whitebeam (Sorbus Intermedia). They're noticing though that their other Whitebeams (Sorbus Aria) are not as tough and are tending to suffer windburn.


The other tree doing well is the Common Alder (Alnus Glutinosa) which are getting good shelter from the Whitebeams and seem very happy.


Some potentials there for anyone wishing to grow trees.

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  • 4 months later...

(** Shetland's a 'Paradise' for trees thread merged with previous Tree Planting In Shetland **)


Well, if Shetland is such a paradise, c'mon 'forestry officer James Mackenzie of Shetland Amenity Trust' lets be having a forest then?!


Otherwise that must be the best example of a pointless job, ever - a forestry officer in Shetland! What next? :D

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