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Reading List: Our Top Tree Books

The Tree Council

February 24, 2020

At The Tree Council we are often asked for our recommendations of useful tree reference books and other tree guides. So, with Christmas on its way, we have put together a reading list of our top 12 books on tree identification, growing and care. We hope you find it useful! 

1. Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain –  Readers Digest 1981
A great introductory guide to native and common naturalised trees with good simple keys to leaves, twigs and cones. Out of print, but available from many second-hand bookshops and on Amazon. Two editions, either worth having.

2. Collins Tree Guide– Owen Johnson 2006
One of the best modern tree identification books, this guide covers a wide variety of trees and has a simple key at the beginning to help you get started, as well as good identification detail. Most useful when you have a bit of experience.

3. Trees of Britain and Ireland– Edward Milner 2011
Published in association with The Tree Council, this book contains a wealth of essential information about native trees, including where different trees grow naturally, the insects, fungi and animals supported by them, the traditional beliefs connected to them, how they are managed and what products are obtained from them. Simply, a very useful book.

4. Trees and Woods in the British Landscape:The Complete History of Britain’s Trees, Woods and Hedgerows – Oliver Rackham 2001
Oliver Rackham’s book is, to coin a phrase, ‘a classic’. If you are interested in trees and haven’t read this, then you must. If you have read this then Rackham’s other works – ‘The History of the Countryside’ and ‘The Last Forest’ will also appeal.

5. The Apple Book –  Rosie Sanders 2014
Quite simply a stunning work, this book depicts 144 detailed watercolours and descriptions of a wide range of different apples from Beauty of Bath to Egremont Russet. It’s one we often use for details of some useful apple trees.

6. Trees: Their Natural History – Peter Thomas 2014
A really useful and detailed description of the ecology and natural history of trees, this book provides a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of tree biology. It answers a wide range of important questions about trees and conveys a wealth of useful information.

7. Trees and How to Grow Them –  Margaret Lipscombe and Jon Stokes
Featuring 80 native and ornamental species, this book gives growing tips, facts, statistics and tree trivia and is illustrated throughout with photography and line drawings. Each tree is detailed with height, shape, fruit, leaves, flowers, bark and more. An ID guide and a practical handbook for growers. 

8. The Good Seed Guide – The Tree Council
This handy pocket-sized guide tells you all you need to know about identifying and collecting seeds, how to germinate and sow them, and how to plant out the trees you grow and ensure their survival. The book contains some lovely colourful drawings which will help you identify a range of trees and their seeds.

9. Trees in your Ground  – Jon Stokes, John White, Archie Miles and Derek Patch
This book helps you plant more trees in your gardens, and to work with others to get more trees growing at work, school, along streets, in neighbouring gardens and in parks and public green spaces. A practical guide packed with ideas and tips to help you choose and care for trees on your patch. 

10. The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs – John G. Hillier and Roy Lancaster (Editors), 2014
A useful book that covers all the most common trees and some rarities that are sold from nurseries and garden centres in the UK and also includes information about cultivation and size.

11. Trees: Their Use, Management, Cultivation and Biology, A Comprehensive Guide – Bob Watson2007 
A reference tool for all those who have a passion for trees or who work in tree-related professions. This is a textbook of trees aimed at arboriculture, horticulture and forestry students studying at National Diploma and Higher National Diploma levels and for candidates of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Diploma in Horticulture and its Master of Horticulture [RHS] Award.

12. Trees for Your Garden: Discovering the Very Best of British Ornamental and Fruit Trees – Nick Dunn 2010
A great book if you are thinking about starting an orchard or growing fruit trees, this guide also contains information about pruning and cultivation as well as most of the common ornamental trees found in garden centres.


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