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Fife and Kinross
Members Centre
Tree Group

The Tree Group is not a formal committee, but a group of about 25 active volunteers, at present coordinated by Paul Blackburn (4 Whinfield Place, Newport on Tay; tel: 01382 542826; e-mail: paul_blackburn@bigfoot.com). The group's two main aims are to rear and plant native trees and hedgerow shrubs. (In the rest of this document, "trees" will denote both trees and shrubs.)


We gather seed locally and germinate it in our own gardens, transferring the seedlings to the nursery after a year. Another source of stock is self-sown seedlings, as long as we are reasonably sure of their provenance. The nursery (approx. 20yds x 10yds) is in a corner of the walled garden at Hill of Tarvit, near Ceres. The walled garden is not open to the public, and we are grateful to the National Trust of Scotland for generously allowing us the use of this plot. The trees generally have one or two years in the nursery.

The nursery receives attention once a week. Pairs of volunteers take turns to look after the trees. Each pair puts in three maintenance sessions in the season (from mid-April to mid-October). A session typically lasts between one and two hours. Maintenance involves three things: hoeing or otherwise cultivating between the rows, keeping weeds from round the stems of the trees; checking that the plants are free of mildew or insect pests; and checking the condition of the fence and gate.

In the late winter, there is some extra activity, restocking and tidying up the nursery.


When they are ready to be planted, the trees are supplied as bare-root whips. We have generally supplied between 450 and 900 trees each year, though we are aiming to keep it at the top end of the range in future. In most cases, we do the planting as well. If stakes, tubes or fencing are needed, it is the recipient's responsibility to provide them.

There are usually five or six planting sessions during the winter, with a team of anything between six and a dozen volunteers each time. Typically, the trees are used for small woods on land unsuitable for cultivation, or for hedges, or for groups or rows of trees along burns, tracks or field margins.

Who gets the trees?

Mostly local farmers or landowners, but anyone with property where a few trees would benefit wildlife. We have also worked with Fife Community Services. Sometimes we have supplied a couple of dozen trees to an individual recipient, sometimes 700. The people we supply may hear about us from SWT members or on some other grapevine; sometimes they are put in touch with us by the local FWAG office.

We are a small operation, and obviously cannot provide material for major afforestation. But there are plenty of people seeking to plant on our kind of scale, and anyone thinking of such a project is very welcome to contact Paul Blackburn in the late summer or early autumn before planting, which normally takes place between late November and late February.

As a group of volunteer amateurs, we do not operate on a commercial basis - the main thing is to get more trees into the Fife and Kinross landscape. We do, however, appreciate a donation to the SWT in exchange for the trees and labour.


We have recently been asked to supply and plant several hedges over the next few years. While wanting to keep our broad spread of species, we do want to concentrate for the next three or four years on rearing larger quantities of hedgerow stock than hitherto.

How you can help

Anyone who fancies their hand at rearing hedgerow (and/or woodland) species is urged to have a go. You can grow dozens of seedlings in a small space in your garden, and they can then either be transferred to the nursery or planted out (in a slightly less small space!) in nursery rows in the garden. For some species, a certain amount of patience is needed: dogrose and hawthorn, for example, won't germinate for 18 months.

For notes on rearing from seed please click here.

And for the latest news about the Tree Group click here.

Anyone interested in helping with nursery maintenance and/or planting is welcome to contact Paul Blackburn.

The work is a satisfying hands-on way of promoting wildlife in Fife and Kinross. It would also be good to hear from anyone who has a suitable corner in their garden which we could if necessary use as auxiliary nursery space.