In 2019, I was asked by Blue Crow Media, the publisher of some very cool city maps, whether I’d like to edit a map of London’s greatest trees. Now, that’s a fascinating project I thought, and before Derek at Blue Crow had finished, I had already said YES! Nine months later, and after much discussion and whittling down, I’m really pleased to say the very beautiful Great Trees of London Map has been published!
Of course, there are dozens, if not hundreds of great trees throughout London, and we soon came up with a long list of 127. The task of selecting just 46 great trees from that list was difficult. And there was history to contend with too.
Following the Great Storm of 1987, a list of 41 special trees selected and voted on by the public was put together by the charity, Trees for Cities. A further 20 trees were added in 2008 bringing the total to 61. Since then, several have gone the way of all trees, and currently there are 55 still standing. There are some fabulous trees on this list – like the Hardy Ash – but we felt London needed a bit of an update.
Maps offer a unique opportunity to visualise where things are, and on that original list, lots are out in the, er, sticks. We felt a map needed to have a more even spread and perhaps a greater concentration in the centre. After all, it would be great if people used the map to find the trees, and even better if they could plan routes between them.
So, from our longlist of 127 very worthy trees, we set about some heavy pruning. We used several criteria: we thought about their history, their cultural value, their diversity, their relative locations, and what they could tell us about London in the early 21st century.
And so, eventually, we agreed on 46. I hope you will forgive us if your favourite tree didn’t make the final cut, but I also hope you will appreciate an eclectic and diverse group of trees that I believe represents London’s urban forest today. I hope it is well-balanced between old and young, and that we have included just enough of our wonderful London planes and venerable old oaks.
To give you a taste of what’s included, there are some very old trees, like the Totteridge Yew or the Royal Oak at Richmond, offering a unique connection with the past. Exotic species like the Rotherhithe Silky Oak acknowledge our changing climate, while landmark trees like the New Cross Gate Giant Redwood or the Finsbury Park Almond inspire visitors to wonder at their individual stories.
As the city grows and changes, its trees will do the same. Great Trees of London Map aims to inspire us all to acknowledge and celebrate 50 of today’s truly remarkable trees.
Where to Buy Great Trees of London Map
In addition, I have a few signed copies available to buy directly from me.
Fully Revised London’s Street Trees
If the map is not enough excitement, I can also announce that a fully revised edition of London’s Street Trees will be out very soon too!
To mark the occasion, the publisher, Safe Haven Books, is sponsoring the planting of a new street tree in Shoreditch. And as that’s in Hackney, it’s going to be something special… More soon: watch this space.