Artist More's "personal project to record in detail as many tree species, varieties and cultivars as he could find in the British Isles and Ireland" evolved into an ambitious but ambiguous publishing project.
The result, "primarily a book for pleasure-far from a botanical text-book," is too heavy for a field guide, too small for a place on the coffee table, and too Euro-centric to be of practical value to American gardeners.
It will be valued here by a discerning but limited audience. A fine painter with a naturalist's eye, More depicts trees and their parts meticulously. The quality of reproduction does his work justice, but the crowded layout does not. Several of the 2,000 color illustrations, all in limbo against the white of the page, are grouped together on each spread. The addition of whimsical birds, animals, and people provides scale. White's text is informative but inconsistent-- a scholarly meditation on each tree rather than parallel descriptions. Hardiness is expressed as percentages rather than the familiar USDA zone numbers, and the "garden value" of a given tree may be rated both "excellent" and "of less merit" with no explanation why.
In all, More and White have succeeded at creating a remarkable body of work. Had they presented it as a series of field guides or a folio of annotated illustrations, they might produced a book with more promising commercial prospects here as well.
-- Publishers Weekly
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