Rushing about our lives, we mostly take our trees for granted. Yet they shape the world around us, our countryside, towns and villages, public spaces and private gardens, bearing silent witness to our ever changing world. Some specimens are as important to our heritage as the greatest of our stately homes, and each has its own story to tell. This collection of portraits from around the United Kingdom records 88 individual trees of outstanding cultural and heritage value. Some have traditionally been special meeting places or boundary markers, like the Tortworth Chestnut that sprang from a nut planted during the reign of King Egbert in ad 800, or the wind-blasted hawthorn 'wishing tree' in the wilds of Argyll, encrusted with coins pressed into its bark by generations of superstitious travellers. Others tell a more human story. Rizzio's Chestnut was planted by the Italian lover of Mary, Queen of Scots, not long before he was murdered by her jealous second husband. While the rare layering beech at Kilravock Castle became known as the 'Kissing Beech' after the illicit embraces by a member of the owner's family and a housemaid under its spreading arms.
All the trees featured are accessible to the public - from the original Bramley to the loneliest tree in Scotland. Each one has been designated a national monument by The Tree Council, as part of its campaign to gain special protection status for heritage trees. Combining striking full-colour photography with a range of archival sources and illustrations, from the Middle Ages to the present day, Jon Stokes and Donald Rodger bring to life for a new generation the rich history and legends surrounding these 'green monuments'.