Latest News @ the RAU Library

Historical books about Trees


As you may be aware the RAU library maintains a notable collection of catalogued historical books.


In our recent glass display cabinet in the library we are now displaying some of these treasures around the theme of “Trees” that grow in Britain.

In our selection the oldest book is: Pontey, W. (1805) The forest pruner, or timber owner’s assistant. Pontey was from a prominent family of Yorkshire nurserymen, living near Lepton in Kirkheaton. During the early 1780s he spent some time as head gardener to the Grimston family at Kilnwick, near Beverley. With the patronage of the sixth Duke of Bedford, he worked hard to encourage to improve the practices of replanting of trees and forest management on the English estates.

The most recent is:  Jackson, A.B. (1927) Catalogue of the trees and shrubs in the collection of the late Lieut.Col.Sir George Lindsay Holford: (Westonbirt Arboretum)

The preface (dated 1926) contains this information: ‘An alphabetical arrangement has been adopted as the most convenient for consultation. The Latin name and authority of each species are followed by the English or popular name when such is in common use. For the benefit of the non-botanical reader an index of popular names has been included.” The book is illustrated with black and white plates.

Also included in the display is: Selby, P.J. (1842) A history of British forest-trees: indigenous and introduced. John Van Voorst

The book contains nearly 200 engravings. Probably best known for his celebrated and beautiful “Illustrations of British Ornithology” published in nineteen parts between 1821 and 1833, Selby’s knowledge of botany and particularly of arboriculture was extensive. His practical experience in planting up hundreds of acres of ground at Twizell House with many varieties of trees, often recently imported, resulted in his being asked by Van Voorst to write this treatise on the subject.

Last but not least is:

Loudon, J. (1838) Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum: or, the trees and shrubs of Britain, native and foreign, hardy and half-hardy … Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman.

But the most visually appealing in their original green cloth bindings with gilt lettering at spines are the 8 volumes of Loudon’s “Arboretum et fruticetum Britannicum”.


This work was Loudon’s greatest, giving an account of all the trees, wild and cultivated, that grow in Great Britain, beautifully illustrated with woodcuts in the text and with 412 copperplate engravings of trees and landscapes after his own drawings. The Scotsman John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843), was an expert on landscapes, gardening, and agriculture in the early 19th century. In 1803 he published an article “Observations on Laying out the Public Squares of London” in the Literary Journal, in which he recommended the Oriental plane, almond, sycamore, and other lighter trees.

We are sure that you will find the history and beauty of these rare and valuable books as interesting as their contents.




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This entry was posted on November 1, 2016 by in Archives, News and tagged , , .


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