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23rd November 2017

Book review: Ancient oaks in the English Landscape

David Lonsdale reviews Aljos Farjon’s book about how the oak tree has shaped the English landscape over the past thousand years.

Connections between past land use and the present-day distribution of ancient trees are the central theme of this book by Aljos Farjon, a botanist and author who is renowned for his work on conifers and who, in retirement, has turned his attention to ancient oaks.

Contributors to the Ancient Tree Inventory have recorded thousands of ancient trees in the UK.  Aljos Farjon hit on the idea of using this information in order to explore in detail the relationships that were already known to occur between the distribution of England’s ancient oaks and the history of land use.  By personally recording trees at many sites and by studying documented site history, he has confirmed the strength of these relationships, while also creating a very readable and fascinating book.

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16th November 2016

Book review: Ancient Trees of the National Trust

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The National Trust is Europe’s largest private custodian of ancient trees. This new book features iconic trees in their care like the Ankerwycke Yew, and the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ tree, as well as properties across England, Wales and Northern Ireland which are rich in ancient and other veteran trees. Ted Green, ATF’s founder president, reviews Ancient Trees of the National Trust, co-authored by ATF trustee Brian Muelaner, and photographer Edward Parker.

This is a welcome addition both to books about ancient and other veteran trees, and to the National Trust’s shops, where it will illustrate to members and visitors the wealth of our living heritage. Brian’s informative, well-researched descriptions of the estates as well as the trees and their biodiversity, will almost certainly encourage visitors to look beyond the well-tended landscape gardens and houses, their art treasures and other man-made features. Eddie’s excellent pictures will no doubt also inspire visitors to look at the magnificence, beauty and history of the natural world beyond the garden gate.

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15th November 2016

Book review: The Long, Long Life of Trees

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Keith Alexander, ATF trustee, reviews Fiona Stafford’s book, the Long, Long Life of Trees, described by the publishers as ‘a lyrical tribute to the diversity of trees, their physical beauty, their special characteristics and uses, and their ever-evolving meanings.’

Fiona Stafford is professor of English at the University of Oxford, and her book is primarily about trees in our culture, including English literature, songs, paintings and myths. An introductory chapter is followed by short chapters on yew, cherry, rowan, olive, cypress, oak, ash, poplar, holly, sycamore, birch, horse chestnut, elm, willow, hawthorn, pine and apple –  a rather eccentric mix of species, with exotica such as olive featured but not more familiar trees such as beech, sweet chestnut, pear or plum.

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