Thursday 29 September 2016

Personal story of trees, planting and travels

Published 18/05/2016 | 02:30

The Company of Trees by Thomas Pakenham.
The Company of Trees by Thomas Pakenham.

I reviewed A Company of Trees last November but following this recent visit to Tullynally, I must just briefly revisit the content. It is essentially a story of a lifetime spent collecting and planting tree species from all over the world.

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It is also a diary, covering a period of 12 months partially spent in the author's estate while at the same time describing his travels during that period and over previous decades. It is a personal story, full of humanity and contains fascinating details both past and present. It is also a history book, slipping easily from the present to the past to relate some exciting story or other about how some species of tree was first discovered centuries ago in China or Tibet or more recently in a hidden canyon in Australia.

Thomas's enthusiasm and knowledge are infectious as he describes the world famous oak that stands in the grounds of Tullynally known as 'The Squire's Walking Stick'. I have one if its children growing on my farm in Meath but as Thomas so wisely pointed out, while it is indeed a sapling grown from an acorn produced by this great tree, we really don't know who its father was!

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