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Our tree nursery plays a key role for Scotland’s forests and land. Growing trees, not only for the timber industry but also new woodland creation projects and diversifying existing woodland too.

Why Newton?

In the past we had many small nurseries across Scotland, but these days we have just one nursery at Newton near Elgin. Newton is in north-east Scotland, around 30 miles from Inverness. This spot was chosen due to its unique microclimate that makes it significantly drier and sunnier than other places in the country. The area is also rich with fertile soil making it the ideal place for the young trees to grow and ours is not the only tree nursery in the area.

We grow 7 million seedlings every year

Our forests need approximately 25 million new trees per year, so we need our nursery to produce a lot of young trees!

Currently, we’re only able to grow around 7 million trees for ourselves and the rest are bought from other nurseries across the UK. We have just started a major redevelopment that will mean we could grow up to 19 million seedlings at Newton Nursery every year.

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Specialist contractors collecting Scots pine cones in Cairngorms National Park 

The journey from seed to sapling

Planting the seeds
Growing trees always starts with a seed. We select the best seeds from the strongest trees so that we develop the healthiest forests possible. At Newton, we start the growth of our trees by planting seeds directly into the soil. Depending on the species, the journey from seed to forest-ready sapling can take three years or more. Regrettably, not all the seeds we sow become seedlings. Approximately half of them face various challenges, such as being eaten by birds, overshadowed by invasive weeds, or failing to germinate altogether.

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After the initial development phase, we go through a process known as transplanting. During this phase, we carefully lift the young seedlings from their initial beds and replant them in neat rows, ensuring each seedling has ample space to develop a robust and healthy root system.

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Daily care and attention
Our dedicated nursery team can plant an impressive 60,000 seedlings per day. Once planted, the trees demand constant attention, including watering, weeding to optimise the space and nutrient availability for our seedlings, and vigilant monitoring to make sure our efforts are paying off. Our fields are often meticulously weeded by hand as the small trees are too precious to risk cutting out with a mechanical weeder.

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Final planting site
Once our seedlings reach a height of approximately 50cm, they are deemed ready for their next journey to their final planting sites, which could be anywhere in Scotland. In an average year, our team successfully nurtures and dispatches approximately 7 million young trees, all cultivated right here in the fields at Newton.

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Tape4Trees is a one-of-a-kind technology that allows us to plant 1 million trees a day

The future of Newton

As part of our ambitious redevelopment plans, we are excited to introduce a state-of-the-art 12,000m² glasshouse. The building will be around the size of two football pitches and capable of growing up to 19 million trees a year.

Newton Glasshouse render in summer at our nursery

The stock produced will be mostly conifer species such as Lodge Pole Pine, Scots Pine, Sitka and Norway Spruce, which are the backbone of Scotland’s £1 billion forestry industry. 

This modern addition will revolutionize our approach by providing a controlled environment to nurture our seedlings. By shielding them from invasive weeds and curious critters, we anticipate a significant boost in our germination success rate, aiming to achieve an impressive 80% germination rate for our seeds. We anticipate construction to be complete by December 2024.

Once the redevelopment is complete, Newton could have up to 25 million trees growing on site in any one year. A significant increase from the 7 million trees we are currently able to produce.

Learn more about our new glasshouse

Newton Nursery September 2023 HD H264

Work with us

With all this investment, our Newton Nursery is an exciting place to work. From tractor drivers and dispatch and logistics managers to team leaders and senior nursery operations managers, it takes all sorts to keep the nursery running smoothly.

If you're interested in working at Newton, check our current opportunities below and stay updated by heading to our recruitment portal and using the search function to set up job alerts.

View our current opportunities

Our history of growing trees 

Although we always love looking for new technologies to improve our work, it’s important to recognise the heritage of Newton Nursery too. Our predecessor, Forestry Commission, was set up in 1919 to oversee the reforestation of Britain after the First World War; demand for wood, and the challenge of importing materials during the war had stripped many areas of their trees. UK tree cover had dipped to as low as 5% so we needed to work hard to restore those lost woodlands.

Tree nurseries were set up across the country to meet the growing demand for trees, Newton had been a working agricultural farm and was turned into a tree nursery in 1931. We estimate there has been over 300 million trees grown since then!

Learn more about the history of our nursery

Explore our nursery 

Learn more about how the nursery works, where the seeds come from, how we care for them at the nursery and how we are modernising for the future.