The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long View of Nature

The Wood for the Trees One Man s Long View of Nature From one of our greatest science writers this biography of a beech and bluebell wood through diverse moods and changing seasons combines stunning natural history with the ancient history of the count

  • Title: The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long View of Nature
  • Author: Richard Fortey
  • ISBN: 9781101875759
  • Page: 366
  • Format: Hardcover
  • From one of our greatest science writers, this biography of a beech and bluebell wood through diverse moods and changing seasons combines stunning natural history with the ancient history of the countryside to tell the full story of the British landscape The woods are the great beauty of this country A fine forest like beech wood far beautiful than anything else whiFrom one of our greatest science writers, this biography of a beech and bluebell wood through diverse moods and changing seasons combines stunning natural history with the ancient history of the countryside to tell the full story of the British landscape The woods are the great beauty of this country A fine forest like beech wood far beautiful than anything else which we have seen in its vicinity is how John Stuart Mill described a small patch of beech and bluebell woodland, buried deeply in the Chiltern Hills and now owned by Richard Fortey Drawing upon a lifetime of scientific expertise and abiding love of nature, Fortey uses his small wood to tell a wider story of the ever changing British landscape, human influence on the countryside over many centuries and the vital interactions between flora, fauna and fungi.The trees provide a majestic stage for woodland animals and plants to reveal their own stories Fortey presents his wood as an interwoven collection of different habitats rich in species His attention ranges from the beech and cherry trees that dominate the wood to the flints underfoot the red kites and woodpeckers that soar overhead the lichens, mosses and liverworts decorating the branches as well as the myriad species of spiders, moths, beetles and crane flies The 300 species of fungi identified in the wood capture his attention as much as familiar deer, shrews and dormice.Fortey is a naturalist who believes that all organisms are as interesting as human beings and certainly important than the observer So this book is a close examination of nature and human history He proves that poetic writing is compatible with scientific precision The book is filled with details of living animals and plants, charting the passage of the seasons, visits by fellow enthusiasts the play of light between branches the influence of geology and how woodland influences history, architecture and industry On every page he shows how an intimate study of one small wood can reveal so much about the natural world and demonstrates his relish for the incomparable pleasures of discovery.

    One thought on “The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long View of Nature”

    1. When I grow up I want to be like Richard Fortey.I noted early on that when I first started reading this book I thought I would grow bored of reading about the natural history of a forest in the UK. Boy was I wrong.I loved this book because, if you know me, or at least are friends with me on FB, you know how much I like taking photos of the flora and fauna that inhabit our back yard. If I had my druthers, I would stay home and catalog it, learn to draw it, and explore the inner workings of how it [...]

    2. Able to draw you from one intense and vivid description of beauty to the next.The Wood for the Trees is a title with two meanings. It refers to a saying, "Can't see the wood for the trees" which is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as, "to be unable to understand a situation clearly because you are too involved in it". The first meaning possibly could involve the Darwinian history of the area, as described to the reader by the author. The other meaning, more closely embracing this beautiful bo [...]

    3. What an interesting, gentle, fabulous book. It reads like a memoir, but it's a mélange of many things, include a few recipes and how-to ideas mixed in, about a little wood and all its denizens in the Chiltern Hills of England. Some history, some easily digested science, some poetic descriptions In a time of extreme stress and unhappiness that the end of 2016 is, this book brought peace and contemplation as nothing else has. I just hope the Grim's Dyke Wood survives what the next years bring.

    4. The Wood for the Trees: One Man’s Long View of Nature - Fortey 4 starsRichard Fortney is a British paleontologist and author. This book is an ongoing journal of a yearlong study of several acres of beech and bluebell wood that he bought after retiring from his position at the British Museum. Each chapter is devoted to a month of the year. Fortey discusses his observations of the botany, biology, and geology of the woodland. He researches the human history of the surrounding area and discusses [...]

    5. I have a soft spot for "almanac" type books, arranged around the seasons. Fortey is an agile, witty writer, with a great ability for apt description. Lovely and erudite book that skips effortlessly from (for example) deep Saxon history of his wood, into the types of butterflies found there. Highly recommended for fans of John McPhee's nature writing; Edwin Way Teale fans, et al.

    6. You might also enjoy:✱ Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees✱ The Hidden Life of Trees✱ Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival✱ Summer World: A Season of Bounty✱ Pilgrim at Tinker Creek✱ The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

    7. So very charming and so very British. I just love the enthusiasm and all the historical and biological facts jammed into this. Richard Fortey buys a woods (go figure) and then learns about beech trees, furniture and walking stick-making, mushrooms, bugs, birds, deer, moss (from the "moss man"!) and all sorts of things. It's all dingley dell, parabulations through the woods and cottages all ticketyboo. The text is charming and enthusiastic, the narrator is charming and veddy veddy British and I j [...]

    8. The Wood For The Trees – One Man’s Long View of Nature by Richard ForteyA Review by Becky HollandPublisher: Knopf ISBN-10: 1101875755 ISBN-13: 978-1101875759Ratings: 4 stars‘The Wood for Trees – One Man’s Long View of Nature’ appears at first glance to be another attempt at copying Thoreau by a writer. Then, reading the description of the book, you realize it is not – in fact – it is its’ own story.Richard Fortey, author and scientist, is a landowner as well. This is where the [...]

    9. Oh bliss! A book that is beautifully written by a British naturalist about a particular place, a small woods, and that place happens to be about 10 miles from the place I am writing about in my historical novel set during the English Civil War. So I get to enjoy not only the wonderful details about bluebells in the beech woods, and the sounds the birds make, and the history of the nearby estates and towns, and the animals that inhabit the wood, but I can count this as research. Like many books a [...]

    10. I used to regularly walk and bird a certain path, through a prairie back to a wide, shallow wetland. After a few years, I had landmarks in my head: that's the Olive-Sided Flycatcher tree; that's the pond where the loon was once; the Black-Crowned Night Herons like to sit over there; this is the Chickadee Woods, and if I'm lucky, the Ospreys might be on their nest. It was like the bar in Cheers: "where everybody knows your name." Or, well, I knew theirs and liked to think maybe some of them recog [...]

    11. A senior palaeontologist retires, and takes to pottering around a small patch of woodland as a hobby. The resulting book is a gently-crafted assemblage of minutia, as he roams around making observations of the plants and wildlife, occasionally calling in experts from his professional network, who can provide special expertise on the matter of crane flies or lichen. Intermixed with this, Fortey outlines the results of historical research on the wood, tying its history in with that of the country [...]

    12. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Too much natural history writing these days seems to dwell on the author's feelings of awe and wonder at the natural world and not enough about the natural world itself. This book doesn't do that. Admittedly it is about a year in Richard Fortey's wood in the Chilterns - or loosely it is about that. There are snippets of information about ghost orchids, beetles, fungi, lichens - some natural history for each month. But, most of the chapters are about the r [...]

    13. In 2011, the author and his wife bought four acres of woodland, just west of London. Named Grim’s Dyke Wood, Mr. Fortey kept “. . . a diary to record wildlife, and the look and feel of the woodland as it passed through diverse moods and changing seasons.”Each month, starting in April, the author noted the changes he witnessed while adding in the rich history of the area. As a scientist, he explains, sometimes with intricate details, the trees, animals, insects, flowers, lichen, and other f [...]

    14. This account of a year in an ancient English beech forest is full of detail and observation, encompasses science, nature, history, and sheer delight at the enjoyment of it all. It could be too detailed for some but I found it quite fascinating.

    15. Lovely lyrical writing in this detailed (perhaps a little too detailed for a novice like me) natural history of Fortey's four acres of woodland in England. Wonderful history, botany, and more in a deeply personal account of his explorations and discoveries. Although it's been a long time since I've read Wendell Berry, Fortey's writing reminds me of his--or at least of my memory of Berry's. Polished, intimate, thoughtful, these reflections move at a stately pace. While I generally dislike authors [...]

    16. This book started out interesting, and I've liked a number of his previous books (he's a fellow-geologist). This one's about his retirement home in a rural, wooded of England, and his efforts to get to know it. It would probably be more interesting to me if I lived in that general area. As I don't, I've stalled & may or may not continue.Returned unfinished. 2.5 stars for me, but English readers shouldn't be put off, as he's a fine writer.

    17. A delightful book on the whole. An honest look at a beech wood throughout a year's observance, with plenty of local history thrown in. A work of natural history in a very true sense of nature and history. The one issue I had with it was the typical human-centered notion that nature, the countryside, this wood, MUST be managed, it MUST be economically valued and used in some way; that nature cannot just exist for its own sake, as shown in this quote from pg. 272: "Our trees may now be left to age [...]

    18. This is a lovely book about a wood in England. It is a managed wood, not a wild wood. It could appeal to people who like the work of Roger Deakin.I found out about this book from a review in New Scientist. This book is structured around the months of the year, and what is happening in the wood, this leads to tangents about the history of the wood, and relevant information about the surrounding area. While having the overall annual structure it also works as a series of short articles, with many [...]

    19. Just couldn't get into this one. It reads a bit like a diary where the author enjoys waxing poetic. Just not for me.

    20. A beautiful book, rich and varied. Full of things to be fascinated by and natural curiosities.Fortey writes about a small patch of woodland in the Chilterns. Month by month he invites us to observe the changing nature of the wood. Elegantly interwoven are a collection of taxonomies of the plants, wildlife, fungi, insects and so on that live in the wood and a gradual introduction to the local history and environment. Meanwhile the author explores with a variety of experts and collects mementos fo [...]

    21. Nope.What a marketing scam. This is not a "biography of a beech-and-bluebell wood". It is Fortey's diary and ego made large. I couldn't even make it through the first chapter.It's a shame too, because, skimming the text, the bits where Fortey doesn't jump in front of the spotlight are actually well-written and extremely interesting. But I can't tolerate an author who impedes his own work by demanding to be seen and validated.In the meantime I'll stick to Robert Macfarlane, who knows how take a s [...]

    22. An enjoyable read to dip in and out of each month. So take trees for example and he explores how they grow, where they thrive, what uses they have, what lives in and around them. Then he goes down a layer and looks at the undergrowth, geology and landscape with historical references to how humans have shaped the woodlands and created what we now see. There are tasters on animals, insects, fungi etc. depending on what he sees each month as the seasons and life cycles change. Fascinating and his e [...]

    23. Fortey describes, month by month, the life of the patch of woodland he bought near to his Henley home, and interweaves with it the story of the estates nearby and the history of Henley itself. To someone who lives far from the south east it feels more suburban than genuinely rural, but it's charming and lyrical - although he tries a bit too hard to be lyrical at times.

    24. Since I have no connection to that specific area of England I often had to skip the historical bits cause I just wasn't that much interested in them although I do of course realize a history of a place is important to be able to paint a bigger picture.

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