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The Wood for the Trees: One Man's Long…

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

by Richard Fortey

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The Wood for the Trees: One Man’s Long View of Nature - Fortey
4 stars

Richard 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 the ecological issues facing the woodland in the future.

I thought this book was very engaging and readable, in small doses. Each ‘month’ was divided into a variety of sub-topics of two or three pages in length. Such a wide variety of topics; ‘Nettle Fertilizer’, ‘Chanterelle Potatoes’, ‘Saved by the Chair’, ‘Rot and Renewal’. A plethora of trivia: for example, necessary culling and cutting of the Lambeth beeches was made marginally profitable by the demand for Potterish toy broomsticks. Or, did you know that collected deer droppings can be incubated to sprout a variety of microscopic fungi ? Fortey makes it all interesting and occasionally funny with extremely bad, but irresistible puns. This book reminded me of what I used read on lunch breaks, magazine articles from Smithsonian and Natural History magazines. Not a good book to get lost in for hours at a time, but great for a coffee break.

I had the audiobook which is read beautifully by Michael Page, but it is much better to have the text for maps, photography, and other illustrations. ( )
  msjudy | Jan 24, 2018 |
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Scientist Richard Fortey chronicles what he found on his four acres of woodland in the Chiltern Hills of Oxfordshire, England over the course of one year.

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