Inside are 15 colour plates called ‘autochromes’ and 134 black-and-white photographs. A total of 24 species of trees are described in detail – among them alder, hornbeam, larch, poplar, horse chestnut, willow, wayfaring-tree – and the natural history is mixed with wonderful legends and folklore.
This book is in fact a natural history specimen in its own right, because someone has collected leaves from the trees and pressed them carefully in the relevant chapters. These are now alarmingly fragile, especially the sprig of lime which still has little fruits attached. There are also some old newspaper cuttings about how to control pests in an orchard.
“In blustering gales and gusty sleet the Old Year had given place to the New, winter was in its most dreary aspect, and the branches of the trees stood out in sheer bareness. Suddenly, one spot by the copse’s side attracted attention, for there, on what was little better than a shrub, the nakedness of the branches was decked by dancing tassels of gold, and into the sodden, rain-swept landscape there came a hint of gaiety, a whisper of spring. It was just a group of two or three Hazel trees, first of all Nature to bring the welcome of flowers to the new-born year.”
What a source of delight this will be. I’ll share some more snippets in my future posts about trees!