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Richard Mabey reflects on the history of our relationship with trees, as exemplified by the beech, and on what the trees themselves can tell us if we pay attention.

He covers a lot of ground: the story of the big storm of 1987 and its effect on the British landscape; the biology and ecology of woodland; the history of British attitudes to trees in general and the beech in particular; his experience of and feelings about owning a woodland; and an extensive consideration of the relationship of mankind with the trees we live among and think we own. It is fascinating, and wise, and leaves one hopeful that as we come to know ourselves better we may better manage our relationship with trees.

This is a curious and compelling mixture of history, natural history, memoir and philosophy that leaves me feeling I know more about trees, about the history of my own country, and many other incidental things than I did before. Strongly recommended.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
31st Dec, 2009 19:08 (UTC)
Sounds like an interesting book. Even from here.

We are just west of where beech trees grow in North America. So I saw them in a park in Michigan, but I am not able to identify them without, like, a botanical tag to read. But I can identify four different kinds of oak (none of them English). It is one of the things we do on our walks. (Also discuss land management history and practices.) This year I have learned to identify cherry, just from the bark.

Last summer we went looking for old growth trees, and they are terribly hard to find, in this neck of the woods.
31st Dec, 2009 19:12 (UTC)
And not in our public library, although they have several things that look interesting by Richard Mabey...
1st Jan, 2010 17:10 (UTC)
Thanks - a standard mistake I make when talking about this book because I know a Peter Mabey in person. I have edited the entry. Hope you enjoy it when you find it.
5th Jan, 2010 15:13 (UTC)
They have a half a dozen of his: couple of works on herbalism, ecology (Oak & Co), one on Kew Gardens, and I have ordered an anthology of nature writing to which he seems to have contributed.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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