The trees at Armadale Castle are one of garden’s highlights, with many exotic and historic specimens to be enjoyed throughout the 40 acre gardens. And now Armadale Castle is to play a new role, fitting for the 21st century, in helping to support the conservation of endangered tree species around the world.
Through a new collaboration with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), Armadale’s historic gardens will be linked with the prestigious International Conifer Conservation Programme as a satellite garden for threatened plant material. The south Skye gardens will become part of a network of ‘safe sites’ where endangered tree species are able to flourish.
Conifers are of major importance worldwide and over 34% of all conifer species are threatened. This ‘living collection’ of endangered species will contribute to the ICCP’s vital research about endangered species, and potentially be used for conifer restoration programmes.
Armadale Castle is set to receive over one hundred young conifers this year, and several dozen shrubs, all of which are under threat of extinction. The trees are grown in Edinburgh from seeds collected in the wild under strictly controlled licence arrangements. Some of the trees will be planted this autumn and next spring, while others will be grown on in Armadale’s nursery for future planting.
Many of the plants originate from material collected in Chile. Among them are Fitzroya cupressoides, a large and long lived cypress-like conifer, and Saxegothaea conspicua, ‘Prince Albert’s yew’, an attractive conifer from Chile’s forests. Others include Abies firma, ‘Japanese fir’; Abies pinsapo var. marocana, ‘Spanish fir’; and Pinus koraiensis, ‘Korean pine’.