The Wisdom of trees (2014, London: Head of Zeus) is a personal exploration of a lifelong fascination with trees and their relationship with the human race. The book may be small in size but not in scope. It is both a natural and an unnatural history, told in a sequence of essays, anecdotes and profiles of Britain’s best-loved species (from yews to Scots pines). Max explores both the amazing biology of trees and humanity’s relationship with wood and forest across the centuries. Embellished with images from John Evelyn’s classic Sylva (1664), the reader is also treated to insights into some of the more remarkable things that trees get up to when we are not looking, and ideas about what to do with trees, wood and woodlands at all times of the year. At the heart is a plea not to underestimate our longest, most faithful partner in the evolutionary game we have shared with them: they are our teachers; we are, literally, their children…
John F. Kennedy told a story about an old man who decided that the driveway from his grand house to the road would look wonderful in all the seasons if there was a line of majestic beech trees along either side. He summoned his equally ancient gardener and told him his plan. The gardener thought for a while, then replied that it would take more than a hundred years for the beech trees to grow to maturity; by that time both old men would be long gone. ‘In that case,’ said the old man, ‘there is not a moment to be lost: plant them tomorrow.’
‘Fascinating, if quirky, exposition of all things woody… the book is a celebration of the plant from which it is made.’ Christopher Hurst, The Independent.
‘A passionate and informative celebration of trees and of man’s ingenuity in exploiting their resources: the perfect gift for anyone who cares about the natural world.’ Goodreads
The Wisdom of Trees is now out in paperback, with a superb new cover design.