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Read the stories behind this year’s runners up.
This unique mutant form of contorted weeping elm was discovered in woods near Dundee in the 1830s by the head forester of the Earl of Camperdown, who admired its twisted form. He had it replanted in the gardens of Camperdown house, now known as Camperdown Park, where it still stands today.
This tree is the original specimen of the ‘Camperdown Elm’ cultivar, which became a popular garden tree in the 19th century. As they cannot reproduce on their own, every other Camperdown Elm is descended from cuttings taken from the one in Camperdown Park, and the cultivar now appears in parks all over the world, from Prospect Park, New York, to Victoria in Australia.
This amazing specimen of Polylepis australis is the largest of the species in the UK.
It was nicknamed the Filo Pastry Tree by a Stranraer Academy pupil who compared the bark to a spring roll. The peeling bark traps air to keep the tree warm at night in its high altitude South American home. The species grows at a higher altitude than almost all other flowering trees, beaten only by other members of the Polylepsis genus – all of which are in fact part of the rose family. The flaky insulation might not be necessary in Stranraer but the crevices make this botanical oddity very popular with nesting wrens and tits.
This very fine oak in the grounds of Strathallan Castle is several hundred years old. It is said that during a terrible famine the local miller, called Malloch, hoarded flour and grain instead of distributing it to the starving locals – they took their revenge by hanging him from this very oak.
Aside from its macabre history, it is a fine tree, of 5.9m girth and totally hollow.
During his final days, in exile on the Atlantic island of St Helena, Napoleon Bonaparte befriended British Army Surgeon Dr Archibald Arnott. Two days before he died Napoleon gave instructions that no British doctor but Arnott should touch him. A weeping willow tree was Napoleon’s favoured spot for contemplation on the island, and he asked to be buried under its shade. This wish was carried out when he died in 1821 and he was interred there until being repatriated to France nearly 20 years later.
Arnott took a cutting from the tree, planting it on his return home to Ecclefechan where it still grows in the grounds of Kirkconnel Hall Hotel.
This magnificent sycamore at the Hirsel Estate in the Borders is thought to have been planted in tribute to the Scottish dead at the battle of Flodden, which took place in Northumberland in 1513. The Scots were defeated in the largest battle ever fought between England and Scotland, and Scottish King James IV was killed in the fighting, becoming the last monarch from Britain to be killed in battle.
Whilst the tree is not believed to be quite old enough to have dated from the time of the battle, it is thought to be have been planted to mark the battle’s 100th anniversary. With a trunk girth of 6.8m the tree stands 30m tall.