Dunkeld House is now a hotel, but the Dukes of Atholl built two previous houses in the area and carried out extensive landscaping of the grounds.
The dukes also experimented with planting different trees, and on such a scale that they became known as the 'Planting Dukes'. Between 1738 and 1830 they planted some 27 million conifers – 'for beauty and profit' – around Dunkeld.
There are many awe inspiring trees within this compact site, firmly establishing its position in the region known as Big Tree Country
. The Parent Larch stands behind Dunkeld Cathedral
and is the sole survivor of a group of European larches (Larix decidua) planted in 1738.
Adjacent to the hotel grounds are the Kennel Bank larches forming a shallow crescent on the north side of the main driveway. They contain trees grown from the seed of the Parent Larch, and 11 of the original Japanese larches (Larix kaempferi). These trees represent the first of the species to be brought to Scotland by the 7th Duke of Atholl in 1785 when a total of 14 were planted. Natural hybridisation between the European and Japanese larches at this spot gave rise to the Dunkeld larch, which on account of its hardiness was to revolutionise Scottish forestry.
Also within the grounds of the Dunkeld House Hotel
, are many British record breaking trees, including the largest girth Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), the tallest red fir (Abies magnifica) and a sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) from the first batch imported to Britain.
More recently the grounds have played host to trees for the iCONic project
. One of the first project sites to be planted was an area of woodland in the grounds, adjacent to the famous Dunkeld Cathedral. The 10 new trees attract much interest and stand in good company, joining the UK champion Douglas fir for girth, and a champion Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana). Two of the four species planted have never been grown here before, and may well turn into the champions of the future.