Recently, I visited Longwood Gardens, which is a huge botanical garden near Philadelphia. As I was taking a photo of one of the (amazing) trees in the...moreRecently, I visited Longwood Gardens, which is a huge botanical garden near Philadelphia. As I was taking a photo of one of the (amazing) trees in the park, a guide came up to me and started telling me about the tree. It was a state champion, some kind of dogwood, the name of which escapes me now. So I asked him if there were any national champions on the grounds. His face lit up and he said, "That's a great question! I love good questions because I'm a guide." And he pointed me in the direction of the one national champion that was there.
I wouldn't have had any idea what a champion tree was if it weren't for this book, which I finished recently. It's funny how sometimes I feel like I'm connecting the dots in life, when I gain useful knowledge just before I need it. (Of course, you don't notice the times when you don't have the information you need, so there's that.)
The Man Who Planted Trees discusses the role of trees on the earth and the environment, especially the various things they do to keep the air clean, filter water, and a whole host of other benefits they provide. Apparently, the research on the role of trees - and forests - is severely lacking, and has just been ramped up in recent years. I found that to be quite a shock.
The book is named after David Milarch, "a Michigan nurseryman who survived a near-death experience, had an otherworldly visitation, and has taken upon himself the mission of saving the trees of the earth." Does that make you skeptical? Especially the NDE and otherworldly visitation? Yeah, same here.
Milarch's idea is to clone copies of championtrees across the world and then use the clones to repopulate or create new forests, or plant them in areas where they are needed. The basis is that champion trees, which are the largest specimens of individual species, must be doing something right to become the biggest, so their DNA must have something to do with that. This sounds like good reasoning and many scientists agree.
Where I'm put off is the whole NDE and otherworldly visits ("light beings") and things like that. It was a bit too much. However, his idea is great and the fact that he has put his energy and life behind this project is even better.
I learned a lot from the book, just overall about trees, that I had absolutely no clue about before. It definitely made me want to find out more. At some points, I did feel the book begin to drag, but I made it through: one, because I had to, and two, I actually did want to. The chapters on various species of trees were interesting, and I had my computer out to look them up, especially to see photos. This was another way I used the book in my visit to Longwood - they had a few Metasequoias, or Dawn Redwoods, there and it was exciting to see them.
The book definitely had its fluffy, non-sciencey moments, but thankfully there was enough science or at least non-spiritual/religious stuff to balance it out. However, I'm not sure that I'd pick this a first resource to learn about trees.