On first hearing about Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo and photographer Robert Llewellyn (Timber Press) I positively salivated. For dendrophiles, the book’s beautifully rendered cover image promises a new level of beauty and intimacy.
First, though, a confession: I’m not just a dendrophile (tree lover), I’m a treek (tree geek). I photograph them, study them and give them an occasional hug. I’m a volunteer LEAF Tree Tender, and try to steal time on Tuesdays at 2 pm EST to join the #treechat on Twitter. I have also been overheard (by wary bystanders) having one-sided conversations with trees. That’s kinda treeky.
So, when I received a review copy of the book, I was over the moon. Over. The. Mooooooon. Seeing Trees lives up to its promise, and then some. And it isn’t just for treeks; it’s for anyone fascinated by the natural world.
We talk about devouring books. This book is so rich and delicious, however, I’ve been savouring it as slowly as dark chocolate. Nancy Ross Hugo’s writing style is charmingly conversational and her ideas are not to be rushed. And Robert Llewellyn’s images beg to be poured over in minute detail.
The first of its three sections talks about how to observe trees. Seeing trees really comprehends more than the visual; it’s seeing with every sense. Hearing, smelling, touching, yes, even hugging. The next section dissects trees by their components – leaves, flowers, fruit, buds, bark – equipping you to see them more clearly. Finally, the authors provide intimate portraits of ten common trees.
|Liquidambar, photographed in Seeing Trees|
I’ll bet there’s someone you know who would delight in finding Seeing Trees under the, er… tree. And, if they’re like me, the perfect companion to it would be the new Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs, also from Timber Press. I didn’t receive a review copy, but Oh! how I hope Santa is reading this blog.
Michael Dirr is the Tree God in my book. That’s me hugging my tattered 1990 copy of his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants in an article about garden book faves last winter on the Seasonal Wisdom blog. I regularly refer to Dirr’s Tree & Shrub Finder app on my iPhone. Dirr’s knowledge of woody plants is, now literally, encyclopedic, and his writing style is opinionated and often entertainingly curmudgeonly. From what I’ve read from other reviewers, his new Encyclopedia is all these good things, plus updated species and cultivars and a ton (or tonne) more pictures. Santa, are you listening?