Blossom and books

If I look out of my study window I can see a beautiful tree. Over the past few weeks I’ve watched it change, the bare branches became a mass of blossom which the wind sent swirling around the street like confetti. Now most of the blossom is gone and fresh green leaves are starting to dominate.

 

Becoming better acquainted with one tree and noticing the changes brought by the changing seasons may be a familiar experience for many this year.

If you’re interested in learning more about a part of the natural world we often take for granted then you might enjoy our specially curated lockdown reading list.

 

Wildwood. A Journey Through Trees – Roger Deakin

Wildwood is a beautifully written book that ranges from rural Suffolk across England and Wales, and then overseas. It takes in subjects as diverse as the walnut harvests of Kyrgyzstan, the Australian outback, woodland management and sculpture. The mix of memoir, travel and nature writing is engaging and Deakin’s love of his subject shines through. We get glimpses of a school boy falling in love with natural history and poetry and making connections between the two. This makes for a lyrical, personal style of writing which brings the portraits of people and places to life.

'A writer needs a strong passion to change things, not just to reflect or report them as they are. Mine is to promote a feeling for the importance of trees through a greater understanding of them, so that people don’t just think of ‘trees’ as they mostly do now, but of each individual tree, and each kind of tree. '
Roger Deakin

 

The Hidden Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben

This is a fascinating book with short chapters which focus on different aspects of the life of trees. Wohlleben explores new scientific discoveries and shares his observations from a career in forestry and managing his own woodland. His contention is that trees behave in a very social way, communicating with each other, sharing food and warning each other of danger. He makes a compelling case and after reading this book you will see woods and forests in a completely different way.

'I encourage you to look around where you live. What dramas are being played out in wooded areas you can explore?'
Peter Wohlleben

 

Gossip from the Forest – Sara Maitland

In Gossip From the Forest Maitland visits twelve different forests across Britain. She writes about the link between forests and fairytales, looking at the history of our relationship with trees and stories. Maitland is interested in all sorts of things including natural history, science and literature and delights in sharing her discoveries with the reader. A key feature of the book is a deep understanding of the power of words and stories. This is a magical read which includes retellings of some familiar and not so familiar fairytales alongside the narrative sections.

'We do not only keep children physically out of the forests – just as seriously, we are depriving them of the language of the woods.'
Sara Maitland

 

Fiction with a woodland setting:

The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy
Elmet – Fiona Mozley
The Lord of the Rings trilogy / The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

Revisit your childhood with:

Winnie-the-Pooh – AA Milne
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
Danny The Champion of the World – Roald Dahl

Three bonus suggestions:

Robin Hood
The Brothers Grimm fairytales
A Midsummer Nights Dream / As You Like It – William Shakespeare

Our readers recommend:

Philip Lane recommends Overstory: “Very much about trees but this time about the dangers giant redwoods face in certain states in the U.S.A. The book is ‘Overstory’ by Richard Powers who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2019. It tells the stories of groups of people dedicating their lives to save these trees from destruction. The theme and power of the writing will stay with you.”

Jamie Dooley – The Wild Trees by Richard Preston (non-fiction)

Jayne Anthony – “I have the Collins Tree Guide which is a field guide to trees of Britain and Europe. It’s a really good resource for tree identification with the most fantastic illustrations.”

 

Shelly Dennison – CPRE Bedfordshire Communications Officer

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