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Tree Books for Gardeners

Arbor Day only comes once a year, but we can appreciate trees throughout the seasons. Here are some books that will be of interest to tree lovers.

“A History of Florida Forests” by Baynard Kendrick and Barry Walsh was released by the University Press of Florida. Written in an engaging style, this presents the fascinating story of Florida forests from the pre-Columbian era into the 21st century. Since the Europeans arrived in the state in the 1500’s, over half of the forested areas have disappeared.

Commissioned by the Florida Board of Forestry, Kendrick completed the original manuscript in 1967. Forty years later, Walsh picked up where Kendrick left off.

Beautifully illustrated with historic photos, this features various sources from memoirs of the conquistadores to first hand accounts from lumber company officials. Kendrick conducted hundreds of interviews during visits to sawmills, lumber companies, and the like.

Each chapter is devoted to a particular aspect of Florida forestry, such as the Native American timberlands and water-powered sawmills. Walsh covers the work of public and private forestry in the state since the 1960’s to the present.

“A Forest Journey-The Story of Wood and Civilization” by John Perlin
was published by The Countryman Press. This award winning title belongs in every tree lover and conservationist’s library. The original book was so popular that this updated edition was released. It features a foreword by Lester R. Brown.

This enlightening world history begins with the dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia and ends in America in the late 1800’s. The author deftly reveals that stewardship of forests and strong economies go hand in hand and that Over-exploitation and disregard for nature has its consequences. He demonstrates the vital role that wood has played in each successive era and society throughout the Old and New World. This title includes historic maps and period illustrations.

The ending is especially prophetic with a quote from an 1882 issue of Harpers Monthly. For this edition, the author added an epilogue explaining the founding and resounding success of the Forest Stewardship Council.

Imagine life without chocolate. The plant is the subject of a wonderful book from the University Press of Florida. The revised and expanded edition of “The Chocolate Tree-A Natural History of Cacao” is by Allen M. Young. Originally published in 1994, this has become a classic. It is illustrated with historic art and photos, this book is a joy to read.

The author reveals everything there is to know about cacao. Young covers its native origins in the rain forests to its domestication and importance in Mayan culture. As the title indicates, this emphasizes the natural history of the plant.

The author devotes particular attention to the different varieties found in South America. An entire chapter is devoted to the question of pollination. The author also presents the history of the tree’s cultivation. He emphasizes how it is possible to cultivate cacao in tropical America without deforestation or environmental damage.

“Organic Coffee-Sustainable Development by Mayan Farmers” is by Maria Elena Martinez-Torres. This was published by the Ohio University Press.

Now fair trade coffee and organic coffees are widely available. While conventional agriculture is responsible for widespread environmental damage, sustainable farming methods are catching on around the world. This enlightening book presents the success story of organic coffee growers in Chiapas, Mexico. The farmers formed cooperatives and adopted organic methods. They found the trees were just as productive.

The author covers a host of subjects from coffee growing and the coffee trade to the cultivation, harvest, processing, and marketing. She also provides a fascinating history of the plants’ use and origins.

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