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Arboretum: A History of the Trees Grown in Britain and Ireland

By: Owen Johnson (Author)

474 pages, 640 colour photos

Whittet Books

Hardback | Dec 2015 | #226373 | ISBN-13: 9781873580974
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £39.99 $49/€45 approx

About this book

In this groundbreaking book, Britain's renowned tree expert Dr. Owen Johnson reveals how generations of adventurous gardeners have transformed Britain and Ireland into one gigantic arboretum: a collection of specimen trees gathered from all round the world.

Meticulously researched yet richly descriptive, Arboretum is essential reading for anyone studying garden history, maintaining a historic landscape, or choosing a tree to plant. It is also the perfect book for anyone who wants to learn more about these largest and most conspicuous yet often-overlooked features of our everyday environment.

Successive chapters reveal the use of native trees and their colourful sports in garden design, the story of gardening with exotic trees as it has unfolded over the last five centuries, and the ongoing role of botanic gardens in the conservation of tree species endangered in the wild.

Owen Johnson has spent thirty-five years researching and recording rare and remarkable trees in every corner of Britain. This definitive study is packed as a result with quirky, personal observations and intriguing tales.

Arboretum is both a celebration of Britain and Ireland's extraordinary tree heritage and a passionate plea for this unique legacy to be appreciated and safeguarded in the way it deserves.

"[...] In this beautifully written book, Owen Johnson rightly sees these 3,000-plus species as a whole, whether native or introduced, wild or cultivated, and their history as shared with each other and inseparable from our own. He regards the British Isles as a vast collective arboretum of unparalleled richness-richness that many of us develop and defend with passion, but which, he warns, is also sorely undervalued at present and increasingly under threat.

Dr Johnson is that rarest of species, a genuine national treasure, and so is the charity to which he has devoted his life, the Tree Register, a painstaking record of more than 210,000 notable and ancient trees that grow in Britain and Ireland. Arboretum is published in collaboration with and in support of the Register and contains the fruits of his decades of work on its behalf.

The book's greatness lies not only in his expertise, but also in his ability to see the wood for the trees. He shapes a multitude of species and stories into a single historical narrative that progresses from the first post-glacial incomers through the ancient planting of yews to the arrival of a conifer that conjures prehistory of a different kind, the Wollemi pine.

The main characters are, of course, the trees, but there is also a fascinating cast of humans: farmers, foresters, gardeners, explorers, connoisseurs, patrons, artists and writers. And the photographs (more than 500, taken by the author) are ravishing. February seems early to be saying it, but if you buy only one plant book in 2016, make it Arboretum."
Country Life, February 24, 2016



Tree Measurements   2
Botanical Names   3
Introduction: The Arboretum of Britain   5

1: Native Trees 15
2: Botanic Gardens: Trees from Chile   123
3: Early Gardens: Trees from southern Europe   165
4: The Eighteenth Century: Trees from America and China   197
5: The Nineteenth Century: Public parks   245
6: The Pinetum Trees from western America, Europe and the Far East   281
7: Tender Trees: Trees from Australasia and south-east Asia   323
8: Woodland Gardens: Trees from East Asia   353
9: The Twentieth-century Arboretum: Elm trees   421
10: Present And Future: Trees from Mexico   449

Glossary   460
Select Bibliography   461
Some Synonyms for the botanical names adopted in this book   462
Index: Trees, people, places   464
Acknowledgements   474

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Since the age of 13, Dr. Owen Johnson has researched and recorded more than 80,000 specimen trees. As Registrar to The Tree Register, he maintains the definitive database of exceptional trees in Britain. His earlier books include The Collins Tree Guide, Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland and The Sussex Tree Book. He lives in Hastings, dividing his time between trees, writing and nature conservation.

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