Botanical artist Masumi Yamanaka, horticulturist Christina Harrison and botanist Martyn Rix collaborate to write Treasured Trees, an introduction to the tree collection at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
The book begins with Christina Harrison’s interesting story about the history of Kew, a topic she knows well. Harrison wrote a dissertation about the history of Kew’s trees and holds a MA in Garden History. Currently she writes educational material for the Garden and serves as the editor of Kew magazine. In the book’s introduction Harrison writes about the popularity of botany in 16th-century Europe, talks about the tree collectors of this era, and explains how Kew evolved to become the public garden it is today.
Following the introduction is a survey of twenty-two of Kew’s finest trees. Masumi Yamanaka’s illustrations and Martyn Rix’s historical accounts of each tree will prompt you to add a visit to Kew to your bucket list, if it isn’t on this list already.
Below is a list of trees featured in this book, plus small hints of fascinating history as shared by Rix. To learn much more about the history of each tree, pick up a copy of this book at your local independent bookstore.
Kew’s Treasured Trees:
- Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), a tree once valued for charcoal production.
- Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), a tree celebrated for its strength and age.
- Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum), one of Kew’s original trees, planted in 1762.
- Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), a tree species dating back to the early Jurassic.
- Black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia), a tree grown in England as early as 1634 by John Tradescant.
- Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis), a tree often depicted in Indian paintings.
- Lucombe oak (Quercus x hispanica ‘Lucombeana’), a hybrid between the cork oak and the Turkey oak planted in the late 1700s.
- Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), a tree once widespread in Europe before the last ice ages.
- Turner’s oak (Quercus x turneri), the result of a rare cross between a holm oak and an English oak.
- Corsican pine (Pinus nigra sups. laricio), the source of the rosin applied to bows used by violinists and cellists and the source of turpentine too!
- Stone pine (Pinus pinea), a tree planted at Kew just as Sir William Hooker began to develop the garden as a scientific collection.
- Chestnut-leaved oak (Quercus castaneifolia), a rare oak collected in Azerbaijan.
- Giant sequoia and coast redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum and Sequoia sempervirens), large impressive temperate trees introduced to England.
- Armand’s pine (Chinese white pine) (Pinus armandii), a tree discovered by a plant hunter and introduced in cultivation in 1895.
- Handkerchief tree (dove tree) (Davidia involucrata), a tree whose inflorescences feature large white bracts.
- Indian horse chestnut (Aesculus indica), a tree Masumi Yamanaka painted in all stages of its life cycle; don’t miss this 9-page spread.
- Bhutan pine (Pinus wallichiana), native to the Himalayas.
- Nikko maple (Acer maximowiczianum), named after a Russian botanist who discovered the tree in 1860.
- Indian bean tree (southern catalpa) (Catalpa bignonioides), native to Alabama and Mississippi, also present in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.
- Goat horn tree (Carrierea calycina), produces horn-like fruit.
- Bogong gum (Eucalyptus chapmaniana), native to New South Wales and Victoria in Australia.
- Sapphire dragon tree (Paulownia kawakamii), named after the daughter of Czar Paul I of Russia.
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