Trees and Books
Trees existed in the world for a long time before humans came into existence. People have a deep attachment to trees, which underpin their very survival. Books are written about trees from various angles and in different forms.
For more than a decade, two old men walked around Beijing to relive old stories about trees.
A girl living in Kyoto studied trees and learned more every day. She wrote down her thoughts and feelings about trees and her experiences.
A keen observer and a photographer worked together to record various features that different trees have, training readers to view trees with sharper eyes.
A sci-tech reporter used modern scientific means to offer knowledge about trees.
Ancient and Famous Trees in Beijing Eventful Old Trees
Where are the remote ancestors of old trees in Beijing? Why are pagoda trees and cypresses the most common trees in the capital? Are there linden trees in Beijing? How did “living plant fossil” metasequoias take root in Beijing? These famous, rare trees are related to relics, record past stories and enshrine the memories of ancient people. The book Ancient and Famous Trees in Beijing consists of 70 articles in two parts. Starting with a background covering common trees in Beijing, the first part introduces famous Chinese scholar trees, famous cypresses, famous pine trees, ginkgo trees, crabapple trees, persimmon trees and other trees in Beijing, as well as old jujube trees in courtyards, ancient and rare trees in the Forbidden City, ancient magnolias at temples, friendship-themed forests and commemorative trees.
The second part describes the relationship between trees, people and land, including ancient ginkgo trees that witnessed the history of Nestorianism, ancient trees that heard the sigh of Cao Xueqin (1715–1763, a novelist and poet), the Chinese wisteria and crab apple trees in the former residence of Ji Xiaolan, the albizia tree in the former residence of Liang Sicheng (1901-1972, a Chinese architect and scholar) and the persimmon trees of Lao She.
The authors of this book are Mo Rong and Hu Hongtao. They have made painstaking efforts since the late 1980s to look for ancient and famous trees in Beijing and looked up documents about them. Their hard work crystallised into articles of more than 200,000 words, existing as valuable materials highlighting the cultural value of these trees and ancient Beijing.
Compiled by the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau, the book was published by Beijing Yanshan Press in 2014. The Notice for the Protection and Management Methods of Ancient and Famous Trees in Cities issued by the Ministry of Housing and UrbanRural Development is included in its appendices, along with other regulations related to ancient and famous trees, making the book more relevant.
The Dropping of Pine Nuts Encounters in Travelling
The Dropping of Pine Nuts is not a popular science book. The poetic name comes from a poem written by a Ming Dynastyera poet. Despite a subtitle that includes the word “Kyoto,” not all of the pieces are about Kyoto. The book records the personal experiences of the author when she lived in Chongqing, Beijing, Kyoto and her hometown. Topics include buying books and reading, planting flowers and clothes. The book is the crystallisation of her
reading, travelling, learning and thinking.
With sharp eyes, this sensitive girl can always understand and articulate the fine character of various trees.
When reading the book, one will learn that Yukawa Hideki ( 1907– 1981, a Japanese physicist and professor) often walked in mountains thick with pine trees, cypresses, oaks, cedars and camphor trees, where well- fed birds fly in the sky. The author also visited the tunnel mentioned in The Dancing Girl of Izu, where she saw a winding mountain path, towering cedars and valuable dry wine. At Nashinoki shrine, she found a katsura tree with tender, heart- shaped leaves, which she dubbed the “Tree of Love.” The scene evoked memories of her hometown, where persimmon trees on a mountain slope bear red fruit. In the spring, the Nashinoki shrine is graced by blossoming cherries, with snow- like fallen petals piling up on the mountain. She also found flowering gardenia trees seeming to scrape eaves, sending forth a sweet fragrance. In Chongqing, she walked a long way to arrive at a lakeside, listening to her friend playing shakuhachi for the last time under moonlight.
These articles have been published in People's Literature and other magazines and were compiled before the publication of the book. With no single article being dedicated to trees, one can still feel their spirit and the poetic feelings inspired by them.
Seeing Trees Discovering Secrets
Delicate red maple flowers, sprouting tulip poplar leaves and beech branches all open a new world of shapes and details when they are observed at close range.
Nancy Ross Hugo has spent time with trees for decades and continues to learn more about them and record her findings. As a garden writer, the education director of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and contributor to several publications, Hugo wrote this book out of her passion for words and outdoor life. In addition to making regular observations of trees and writing about her findings, she has come up with strategies to improve her findings and offered detailed descriptions of more than 10 common trees, such as the buttonwood, black walnut, gingko, red maple, evergreen magnolia and American white oak trees. She vividly portrays the trees, the various parts of their lives and their fluctuations over the course of the four seasons. One can feel the power and beauty of nature when reading this book and feel encouraged to find natural miracles that are all around, with a new perspective.
Lavish photos taken by Robert Llewellyn compliment Hugo’s writing and enhance the book. His pictures reveal subtle and otherwise overlooked details, making leaves, flowers, cones, fruit, buds, leaf scars, bark and twigs more compelling. Llewellyn used composites of 8–45 pictures of an object shot with different focal points. The results are astonishingly sharp. Some rarely seen details have also been captured, such as the male flowers of towering trees.
Llewellyn has worked in tree and landscape photography for more than 40 years. Pictures in this book come from a four-year-long tree shooting programme, billed as a “hymn to the native trees of Virginia.”
The Secret Life of Trees Symbol of Warmth and Wisdom
Differing from other science books, which may be less interesting, The Secret Life of Trees offers logical information, deep thinking, poetic writing and compelling stories about nature. The writer’s intense love of nature makes the book both informative and poetic.
The book traces the evolution of trees using Darwin’s (1809–1882, an English naturalist, geologist and biologist) theory of evolutionary and explains the remote history and present distribution of trees with the aid of Wigner’s (1880–1930, a German geologist) theory of continental drift. The book is enjoyable to both scholars and laypeople.
Colin Tudge (a British science writer born in 1943) is the one and only science writer who has won the annual Association of British Science Writers Award for three consecutive years. He began planting saplings in his yard at age 11. He had become a superb cactus grower by the time he turned 18. These activities are part of his life-long love of trees.
In The Secret Life of Trees, Tudge explains how trees evolved, the development of their species, their growth and distribution, their characteristics and abilities to survive in various places, and how they compete and cooperate with surrounding lifeforms. The last chapter explains the best ways for people to use trees and what trees do for people. Other books may prioritise human needs and abilities. This book is not only thorough and interesting but also gives due respect to nature.
The Dropping of Pine Nuts
Ancient and Famous Trees in Beijing
The Secret Life of Trees