Why did I love this book?
This booklet is thin, smaller than a kindle, and small enough to fit in an outer pocket or any small bag. I bought my copy in 2011 and ever since I have given copies of the booklet to those who would connect with his ideas about trees. He wants us to forget the trimmed apple trees of his father, and urges us to fall in love with the overgrown trees in a scrap of ancient woods in the English countryside. He hated Victorian botanists for their passion for naming and classification. He sounds like a heretic when he takes on Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish botanist, who continues to be famous for the binomial system for naming all the plants in the Vegetable Kingdom. He actually takes his readers to Uppsala, the university town in Sweden where Linnaeus was a professor, to underscore what he calls the “bitter fruit of the Uppsalan tree.” By naming a tree, Fowles writes, we stop looking at it. That is the original sin! His unorthodox views inspired me to discern in the woods of the Old Masters - Titian, Ruisdael, Rubens, and Claude Lorrain - not a collection of named trees, but a celebration of sylvan beauty. In fact, I consider the essays in my book the direct descendants of Fowles’s observations in a little book that by now is truly an evergreen.