by Owen Johnson, 368 pp, 2011, Kew Publishing, £22, ISBN 9781842464526
In its previous incarnation, published by Whittet Books in 2001, Owen Johnson’s Champion Trees was essentially a library reference work, tall and slim. The current version, however, is, if not quite pocket-sized, at least handy for keeping in the car and is a much more useful book than its predecessor.
|The Champion Quercus castaneifolia, planted at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, in about 1846. It is 31 m tall, with a diameter at breast height of 245 cm.|
|Thuja plicata 'Semperaurescens' - one of several champions at Colesbourne Park, measured by Owen Johnson at 23 m tall;, 100 cm dbh in 2004. A beautiful tree in all seasons.|
The records section also sets out to be a complete list of trees in cultivation in the British Isles, which is very helpful, though this is an ever-shifting position. There is also a list of all native trees, including, perhaps controversially, Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus. There is an index of synonyms, of common names, and to location, making the guide easy to navigate. Navigation is also implied in the valuable gazetteer of sites with good trees, which takes a circuitously non-alphabetical course through counties around Ireland before heading through Scotland and anticlockwise through England to Wales – an interesting approach but irritating when trying to find a particular location in a hurry. It’s also very unfortunate that no key is provided to the symbols used, although a crown clearly indicates a champion and a blue leaf a noteworthy specimen.