The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohllenben

Our January 2018 book discussion


Are trees social beings? In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.

Our own Flat Fairy found Wohllenben's insights thought-provoking. Being one who loves to rollick through the forest, she enjoyed how his stumbling on a “root” in the forest he was tending led him down a lifetime path of which gives us pause to reconsider trees as we think of them.  Flat Fairy paused as Wohllenben observed whether trees’ sensitivities about their own and near neighbors’s health is responsible for their making certain accommodations...

Peter Wohlleben shares his experiences from decades of observing the forest. He often noticed peculiar things, which he then investigated. He learned of unknown workings of trees, of the organisms that co-exist with trees, and the whole forest. Often, Wohlleben begins with an anecdote and explores from there but, even once he has reached quite some depth in a biological phenomenon, he has not broken from his story-telling style. His primary purpose in the book is to reveal that trees have more complex capabilities than most people are aware. Another major point illustrated is the interconnectedness of trees and all parts of the forest. He also shows that this can be generalized further onto the interdependence of all the elements of an ecosystem, with the Earth being the most significant ecosystem. Wohlleben shows that trees support each other in various ways. They adjust their microclimate and other elements of their habitat together, share nutrients, warn each other of attacks, sometimes help out through a coincidence. He points out that this system functions at every level, and is a crucial element to all life!


Our Reading Shelf


    Recently many of our members introduced their own favorite gardening books, click here to read that list of fascinating and varied titles.

    Suggested Resource Books

    • The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening by J. I. Rodale 
    • Wyman’s Gardening Encyclopedia
    • The Well Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust
    • Pruning Made Easy by Lewis Hill
    • Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening

    • Any of Ken Druse’s booksKen Druse is a celebrated lecturer, an award-winning photographer, and an author, who has been called “the guru of natural gardening” by the New York Times. He has contributed to just about every home and garden magazine, and is best known for his twenty gar­den books published over the last twenty-five years. The American Horticultural Society listed his first large-format work, The Natural Garden (Clarkson Potter, 1988), among the best books of all time. His book, Making More Plants (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 2012) won the award of the year from the prestigious Garden Writers Association. That group gave Ken the 2013 gold medal for photography and the silver for writing for his article on gourds in Organic Gardening Magazine. Also in 2013, the Smithsonian Institute announced the acquisition of the Ken Druse Collection of Garden Photography comprising 100,000 images of American gardens and plants.

    • The Garden Club of America presented Ken with the Sarah Chapman Francis medal for lifetime achievement in garden communication. His most recent books are Natural Companions and The New Shade Garden.
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    All the President's Gardens by Marta McDowell

    Our January 2017 book discussion; you may click here for a brief review by our President, Nancy Howard

    The 18-acres surrounding the White House have been an unwitting witness to history—kings and queens have dined there, bills and treaties have been signed, and presidents have landed and retreated. Throughout it all, the grounds have remained not only beautiful, but also a powerful reflection of American trends. In All the Presidents' Gardens bestselling author Marta McDowell tells the untold history of the White House Grounds with historical and contemporary photographs, vintage seeds catalogs, and rare glimpses into Presidential pastimes. History buffs will revel in the fascinating tidbits about Lincoln’s goats, Ike's putting green, Jackie's iconic roses, and Amy Carter's tree house. Gardeners will enjoy the information on the plants whose favor has come and gone over the years and the gardeners who have been responsible for it all.

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    American Botanical Paintings: Native Plants of the Mid Atlantic by Bonnie Driggers

    Entertaining narratives describe the plants, their habitat, and their usefulness in gardens or wild areas. Fascinating notes relate ways Native Americans and colonists along the mid-Atlantic area of the U.S. used plants for food, medicine, and tools. The book features a painting of Possumhaw Viburnum by AGC member Mary Page Hickey shown here:


    Taken from American Botanical Paintings: Native Plants of the Mid Atlantic

    Having painted botanical watercolors for the last 18 years, Mary Page Hickey continuous studying under Ann-Marie Evans. Mary Page has also worked as a horticultural consultant for both public and private clients. Her love of nature and plants was greatly influenced by her family and has focused her quest for perfection in illustrating artistically not only the botanical aspects of various plants but al their unique traits. She has exhibited at the Garden Club of America headquarters in New York: the Athenaeum in Alexandria, Virginia; and often at the High Peaks Art Show in Keene Valley, New York. She is a member of ASBA, BASNCR, and the board of directors of BAEE. The Garden Club of America awarded her the prestigious Horticultural Arts Award in 2012.