Tree cheers for Morinda

Maree Morrison, Morinda spruce, Hopetoun House, Scottish Tree of the Year 2016
Maree Morrison, Morinda spruce, Hopetoun House, Scottish Tree of the Year 2016

It’s not the oldest tree in Scotland by a long chalk – but the Morinda Spruce at Hopetoun House has made the shortlist for the Tree of the Year competition run by the Woodland Trust,

Back in 1818, Dr George Govan, a Scottish botanist, collected seeds whilst on an expedition to the Himalayas, and gifted them to the Earl of Hopetoun who passed them on to his very talented gardener, James Smith.

He germinated the seeds and grew seedlings which he then grafted onto Norway Spruce root stock, to give them the best chance of survival in the unpromising Scottish climate.

In 1821, these seedlings were planted out into the gardens to the west of Hopetoun House and have remained there ever since – they can be visited today by following the Spring Garden Trail.

In recognition of the work of James Smith with the Morinda Spruce, it was given the scientific name Picea smithiana.

James remained head gardener at Hopetoun until his death at 73 in 1850.

He had been gardener at Hopetoun for 60 years, starting work at just 13 years old, and won many accolades for his work, for example a silver medal from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1824 for his ability to force cultivate rhubarb and to improve its bitter taste.

His grave is in Abercorn Churchyard.

To vote for the tree he brought to life at Hopetoun visit woodlandtrust.org