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Image by Ian Keefe

Trees of History & Romance

Trees have inspired writers, naturalists and poets for thousands of years. They are the longest-lived organisms on Earth and occupy a special place in creation. They have been worshipped by some as expressions of religious or national pride and denigrated by others as symbols of wasted land.

In this book, written with grace and playfulness, wit, erudition and occasional introspection, Michael Pembroke has collected a cornucopia of information on certain trees, drawn from history, literature, poetry, mythology, botany and folklore. His subjects are the deciduous trees and conifers thriving in the cool-climate, basalt soil and altitude of Mount Wilson, a nineteenth-century hill station in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. The trees that have excited his imagination, and provided a rich store for his literary abilities, are those that have shaped history, influenced western civilisation and inspired lovers.


This book is, however, no encyclopaedia. Woven throughout is a personal memoir reflecting the unfolding of a deep felt connection with the land and nature – as an accidental gardener, an amateur naturalist and an occasional romantic.


‘exquisite book… inspiring to read and beautiful to hold’

Weekend Australian


‘Formal well-constructed prose; thick creamy pages; precise botanical illustrations’

The Age

‘beautifully designed and produced book’

Sydney Morning Herald

‘If you ever wondered how the silver birch helped save the Russians from Napoleon’s advance, it’s all in here’

Botanic News

‘The writer’s style is rich in imagery… a soothing and refreshing palliative’

Bar News

‘The perfect gift for a garden lover… the witty and light-hearted writings are very entertaining’

Country Style

‘beautifully written and illustrated book’

President, New York Botanical Gardens

‘well done and wonderfully interesting’

President, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

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