Roger Deakin, who died in August 2006, shortly after completing the manuscript for Wildwood, was a writer, broadcaster, and filmmaker. His previous book, Waterlog, recounts his swimming adventures and has been hailed as a classic of nature writing.
Thomas Pakenham is an indefatigable champion of trees. In The Company of Trees he recounts his personal quest to establish a large arboretum on the family estate, Tullynally in Ireland; his forays to other tree-filled parks and plantations; his often hazardous seed-hunting expeditions; and his efforts to preserve magnificent old trees and historic woodlands.
Whether writing about the terrible storms breaking the backs of hundred-year-old trees or a fire in the peat bog on Tullynally which threatens to spread to the main commercial spruce-woods, his fear of climate change and disease, or the sturdy young saplings giving him hope for the future, his book is never less than enthralling.
"In prose as clear as the lines in a Dürer etching, Jerry Dennis maps his home ground, which ranges outward from the back door of his farmhouse to encompass the region of vast inland seas at the heart of our continent. Along the way, inspired by the company of water in all its guises---ice, snow, frost, clouds, rain, shore-lapping waves---he meditates on the ancient questions about mind and matter, time and attention, wildness and wonder. As in the best American nature writing---a tradition that Dennis knows well---here the place and the explorer come together in brilliant conversation."
---Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Conservationist Manifesto
If you have been enchanted by Jerry Dennis’s earlier work on sailing the Great Lakes, canoeing, angling, and the natural wonders of water and sky—or you have not yet been lucky enough to enjoy his engaging prose—you will want to immerse yourself in his powerful and insightful new book on winter in Great Lakes country.
Grounded by a knee injury, Dennis learns to live at a slower pace while staying in houses ranging from a log cabin on Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Peninsula to a $20 million mansion on the northern shore of Lake Michigan. While walking on beaches and exploring nearby woods and villages, he muses on the nature of time, weather, waves, agates, books, words for snow and ice, our complex relationship with nature, and much more.
From the introduction: “I wanted to present a true picture of a complex region, part of my continuing project to learn at least one place on earth reasonably well, and trusted that it would appear gradually and accumulatively—and not as a conventional portrait, but as a mosaic that included the sounds and scents and textures of the place and some of the plants, animals, and its inhabitants. Bolstered by the notion that a book is a journey that author and reader walk together, I would search for promising trails and follow them as far as my reconstructed knee would allow.”
Out of all the trees in the world, the ash is most closely bound up with who we are: the tree we have made the greatest and most varied use of over the course of human history. One frigid winter morning, Robert Penn lovingly selected an ash tree and cut it down. He wanted to see how many beautiful, handmade objects could be made from it.
Thus begins an adventure of craftsmanship and discovery. Penn visits the shops of modern-day woodworkers—whose expertise has been handed down through generations—and finds that ancient woodworking techniques are far from dead. He introduces artisans who create a flawless axe handle, a rugged and true wagon wheel, a deadly bow and arrow, an Olympic-grade toboggan, and many other handmade objects using their knowledge of ash’s unique properties. Penn connects our daily lives back to the natural woodlands that once dominated our landscapes.
Throughout his travels—from his home in Wales, across Europe, and America—Penn makes a case for the continued and better use of the ash tree as a sustainable resource and reveals some of the dire threats to our ash trees. The emerald ash borer, a voracious and destructive beetle, has killed tens of millions of ash trees across North America since 2002. Unless we are prepared to act now and better value our trees, Penn argues, the ash tree and its many magnificent contributions to mankind will become a thing of the past. This exuberant tale of nature, human ingenuity, and the pleasure of making things by hand chronicles how the urge to understand and appreciate trees still runs through us all like grain through wood.
The Cabaret of Plants is a masterful, globe-trotting exploration of the relationship between humans and the kingdom of plants by the renowned naturalist Richard Mabey.
A rich, sweeping, and wonderfully readable work of botanical history, The Cabaret of Plants explores dozens of plant species that for millennia have challenged our imaginations, awoken our wonder, and upturned our ideas about history, science, beauty, and belief. Going back to the beginnings of human history, Mabey shows how flowers, trees, and plants have been central to human experience not just as sources of food and medicine but as objects of worship, actors in creation myths, and symbols of war and peace, life and death.
Writing in a celebrated style that the Economist calls “delightful and casually learned,” Mabey takes readers from the Himalayas to Madagascar to the Amazon to our own backyards. He ranges through the work of writers, artists, and scientists such as da Vinci, Keats, Darwin, and van Gogh and across nearly 40,000 years of human history: Ice Age images of plant life in ancient cave art and the earliest representations of the Garden of Eden; Newton’s apple and gravity, Priestley’s sprig of mint and photosynthesis, and Wordsworth’s daffodils; the history of cultivated plants such as maize, ginseng, and cotton; and the ways the sturdy oak became the symbol of British nationhood and the giant sequoia came to epitomize the spirit of America.
Complemented by dozens of full-color illustrations, The Cabaret of Plants is the magnum opus of a great naturalist and an extraordinary exploration of the deeply interwined history of humans and the natural world.
Trees are marvels of nature, still-standing giants of extraordinary longevity. In a beautifully written sequence of essays, anecdotes and profiles of Britain's best-loved species (from yew to scots pine), Max Adams explores both the amazing biology of trees and humanity's relationship with wood and forest across the centuries.
Embellished with images from John Evelyn's classic SYLVA (1664), THE WISDOM OF TREES is a gift book that will delight anyone who cares about the natural world and our interaction with it.
This easy-to-use guide covers the 360 species of tree that are found in Britain & Ireland. Each species is covered in detail with information on how to identify, whether from a leaf, twig, bark or whole tree, plus extra information on where the tree grows (including a map), how high they grow, what uses it is put to and history.
Every species is also comprehensively illustrated with photographs of every useful feature – bark, leaf, seed, flower, twig and whole tree.
Sample identification section:
Silver Birch Betula pendula (Betulaceae) height to 26m
A slender, fast-growing deciduous tree with a narrow, tapering crown when young and growing vigorously. Older trees acquire a weeping habit, especially if growing in an open, uncrowded situation.