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Big Tree Country

Perthshire is known as ‘Big Tree Country’. This is, in part, due to the great seed collector David Douglas who was born in Scone and then travelled the world in the 1800s finding new tree species to introduce to Scotland including his namesake, the Douglas fir.

The Hermitage is one of the best places to see these magnificent Douglas fir trees – and they’re doing very well in our Scottish countryside. When you’re walking through the Hermitage, look out for changes in the woodland cover where natural regeneration of native trees such as oak, hazel and birch have gained superiority, creating a mosaic of deciduous and evergreen trees. Notice the change in the light as the tree cover changes.

One of the tallest trees in Britain used to stand on the south side of the River Braan. The root plate is all that is left from the tree after it came down in January 2017. It was over 61m high and when it fell, it crashed through its information board at the viewpoint just before the stone bridge. The top of the tree landed where the Douglas fir bench now lies.

This bench resembles a Douglas fir cone and has been designed to encourage people to lie on their backs and look up into the canopy. This area here is called the ‘Cathedral’ or the ‘Temple’ as the Douglas firs resemble pillars and their crown a roof.

At the stone bridge spanning the River Braan, you’ll come across a magnificent cedar of Lebanon. It’s probably the same age as the bridge, or possibly slightly older – a rare survivor from the 18th-century wilderness garden.

The Hermitage appears in a different dress all through the seasons. In winter you can marvel at the beauty of a winter woodland, when the bare branches are laden with snow. In spring the woods come back to life when all the fresh leaves and woodland flowers begin to emerge and the Hermitage is full of colours, smells and sounds from birds and woodland life. Take a moment and close your eyes, as this place was designed to be a garden for all senses. In summer you can enjoy the peaceful, cooling surroundings of a woodland just next to the busy A9. But perhaps the most spectacular time to visit the Hermitage is in autumn when the tree colours are truly breathtaking. You’ll find a large variety of mushrooms around and on the trees, and if you’re lucky you might spot red squirrels busy collecting supplies for winter storage.