Heritage Trees of Wales takes the reader on a journey through the ancient Welsh countryside to visit the country's most remarkable trees. Steeped in history, surrounded by myth and legend and full of cultural and historical significance, these trees dominate the Welsh landscape. Packed with colour photography, directions for visiting the trees and detailed maps, this book tells the story of Wales' unique and diverse collection of heritage trees. Ideal for those interested in history or nature of any age. Published in association with the Tree Council.
74 great trees, 74 great tales
by Huw Jenkins in the United Kingdom (25/10/2012)
76 trombones in the big parade but only 74 trees in Wales make it into Heritage Trees. A handsome book to dip into and delve around. Nothing too weighty or pompous; good stories well told, leaving you wanting more as opposed to yawning.
Garthmyl, a small village between Welshpool and Newtown, is not a well known place but important in our family as where my mother grew up. I never thought it would also be home to two (or almost 3%) of these nationally famous trees. The Garthmyl Oak being one and the Garthmyl Cedar of Lebanon the other. The latter has a chandelier dangling from a lower bough so that the caretakers come owners can enjoy it by night!
The book begins with a serious foreword from Pauline at the Tree Council stressing that UK governments, including Wales, do little or nothing to protect these trees compared with other European countries. ..."many could be felled tomorrow without penalty. The value of these trees, these Green Monuments, is already formalised in other countries."
I just spent £350 having tree surgeons dangle on ropes cutting out the dead and removing 10% of the canopy so that our Scots Pine will keep on growing – maybe the 30th reprint of Heritage Trees Wales in 2212 will include it if we've done the work well and we're lucky.
People come and people go, but trees seem to be there forever. We plant trees in commemoration of somebody or something, expecting them to remain in the landscape long beyond our individual lives. But how often have we wondered what tales a tree could tell?
"Heritage Trees of Wales" attempts to tell us some of those tales. It is an amazing odyssey through the country, looking at trees that are steeped in history, myth, legend or other cultural significance, and a few that are just plain old. It’s a book to dip in and out of, for there are too many stories and snippets to assimilate in one go.
Today the book fell open at the page entitles “Charley Trees”. What trees? This article led me through the history of the Scots Pine in Wales, Scottish foresters, the Jacobite rebellion, sign-posts for travellers and ley-lines. All that in a double-page spread that included two photos and a small map. And there are seventy-four such articles.
This book isn’t about identifying trees, cultivation of trees, or anything remotely technical. It is about people, places, time and landscapes: the elements of heritage. These are trees for curious minds.
Do I have any gripes about the book? Only that Pembrokeshire gets a measly two trees (plus a reference to the drowned forest at Amroth), and Anglesey doesn’t get a mention at all. It is heavily weighted towards the borders and the south-east, but perhaps there really are more heritage trees there.
You’ll need to buy the book to find out about the Curley Oak, or the Weird Birches of Ty Uchaf, and which masculine “Old Lady” had stood through the reign of seventeen Kings and three Queens by 1813.
Archie Miles has previously worked as an assistant to renowned Time & Life photojournalist Brian Seed throughout the UK. He began to write professionally with articles on country/travel matters for magazines such as "Country Talk" and "The Countryman". He has authored, photographed and project managed several books on trees, including "Common British Trees", "Great British Trees", "Heritage Trees of Scotland", "The Heritage Trees of Britain and Northern Ireland", "The Trees that Made Britain", and "Hidden Trees of Britain". Archie has appeared on live and recorded radio programmes across various regions and featured in two programmes of the first series of "The Trees that made Britain", BBC2 (2006).