Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees is the first nature book by Roger Deakin I’ve read, now I want to read more. I’ve always loved trees, in nature, in art, the timber, wooden objects. As we know, it is beneficial to lose ourselves outside in nature, breathing in the fresh air, absorbing the quiet, acknowledging the trees and flowers, and so I found the experience of reading this book. It will make you want to camp outside in the woods.
The first half of this book is a journey through the woods of Suffolk around Deakin’s home, talking to woodlanders and slipping in literature, poetry, woodworking and science. The second half is travel writing… about trees. Deakin travels to Kazakhstan in search of wild apple groves, the founding trees on which all our domesticated apples are based. In complete contrast are the chapters about Australia. Deakin lives and travels with local people in both places, enthusiasts and specialists in their subject, and this comes through in his writing. Both parts of this book are fascinating, just different. In the UK he talks to artists, woodcarvers, naturalists and thatchers in East Anglia, the New Forest, Wye and the Forest of Dean. His memories of schoolboy camping trips to the New Forest analysing and chronicling a small part of woodland show how young minds can find a fascination that lasts a lifetime.
At times quite dense with detail, I read this in short bursts rather than in one long reading session. Deakin inhabits his book with real people, he describes what they look like and how they speak, their cabins [often rough shacks in woodland], their tools, the timber they grow, manage and work with. Many are scientists others are artists. It is a homogeneous read in that everyone featured loves trees.
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