This beautifully presented book covers over 100 useful trees from commonplace fruit such as apples and pears to the exotic sounding date plum and golden chinkapins. For each entry there are several pages of detailed description including origin and history, uses, cultivation, pests, diseases and suppliers. A full list of varieties is given for each species; and I mean full – 47 varieties of hawthorn is just one example!
To help the reader select the appro-priate trees for their location – just about anywhere in the world – Part 2 lists trees by climate type ranging from semi-arid through tropical, temperate and Mediterranean to continental. Each climate type is then divided by climatic zone, for example, semi-arid is broken down into six climate zones. Then within these classifications, trees are listed by their uses, whether it is for fruit, nuts, medicine, timber or more.
This abundance of interesting and useful information springs from Martin’s extensive experience of trees alongside keen observation and enlightened experimentation. Firstly there are obvious uses of trees – for timber, fruit, nitrogen fixation and flowers for bees and other insects, and then there are the manifold but less obvious uses including sap, dyes and medicines. But what about using the oil from cornelian cherry seeds to light your lamp, or roasting and grinding the seeds for a coffee substitute?
This is also a book rich in practical details that are very unlikely to turn up in other reference books on trees. For instance, it suggests inter-planting Eleagnus as a nitrogen-fixer amongst apples, and explains that goats and rabbits like to eat black locust leaves which makes it a useful tree in a perma-culture system. These and many other uses are tantalisingly interesting. I was not aware of hardy varieties of citrus, nor of the potential to sprout beech seeds to eat, both of which I hope to explore sometime.
This attractive book presents a great deal of information in an engaging way, using beautiful colour photographs and helpful tables. The contents pages list trees alphabetically by both English and Latin names, making it easy to browse and navigate.
Martin’s enormous expertise and familiarity with a vast range of trees is clear from the moment you open the book. However, it is written for the ordinary person and is not full of the jargon that makes some reference works virtually incomprehensible. Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture makes fascinating reading and I heartily recommend it as both relevant and timely for gardeners and professional growers alike. Read it for reference, for enjoyment and to come back and dip in to again and again. I anticipate that it will encourage many of us to grow more trees and to better appreciate them wherever we meet them.
Anni Kelsey is author of Edible Perennial Gardening
Trees for Gardens, Orchards and Permaculture is currently on special offer at £18.70
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