Pioneering Planters

The early pioneers of the 16th and 17th centuries were spurred on by a number of influential books and individuals, who encouraged experimentation.

John Evelyn’s Sylva, published in 1678, and The Scots Gard’ner by John Reid published in 1683, had a profound influence on the landowners of the time. The founding of the Physic Garden in 1670 (which became the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) was a milestone in the development of forestry in Scotland, becoming an early centre of excellence in plant research and cultivation.  

The scale of planting was astonishing - the ‘Planting’ Dukes of Atholl alone planted 21 million trees on some 15,000 acres of ground over a 100 year period. ‘Planter John’, the 4th Duke of Atholl (1755 - 1830), wrote that ‘Planting ought to be carried on for Beauty, effect and Profit’ - his ambition was to supply the entire British navy with larch from his estate.  The Dukes and other landowners pioneered large-scale commercial planting of conifers at Blair Atholl, Breadalbane, Scone, Blair Drummond and Drummond Castle. Estates in Argyll, Dumfriesshire - notably at Drumlanrig Castle - and in the Highlands similarly took up the fashion.