TREES THAT SHAPE THE WORLD

by Tom Petherick

Publisher:  Quadrille (2006)
ISBN  1-8440-317-5

Hardback £25

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Tom Petherick is well-known for his work at Heligan and the books he has written about it.  He is now restoring an estate and walled garden at his family home in Cornwall.

To me, this big and glossy book feels like a tour of the venture that followed Heligan:  The Eden Project.  The first thing that struck me was the beautiful colour photographs:  atmospheric pictures of trees, forests, leaves, flowers or fruits are found at the turn of every page, including some stunning double-page images.

Like Eden, Petherick covers the native trees in the different climate zones six here he even calls them ‘biomes’!  He looks at their relationship with and importance to people over the centuries, the legends that surround them, their many uses, the part they may play in the future, and the threats that they face.  His text intersperses the photos with extensive descriptions and shorter paragraphs which act like ‘sign boards’ for each tree: it’s an interesting format, and one that seems to work, packing in a great deal of detail (including a full index and useful addresses) and even some personal anecdotes.  It   makes this book one that either, can be dipped into, read in sequence, or just appreciated for its beauty.

Shirley Barnes