Friday, 8 July 2011

The wonderful world of trees and where to find British champions...

We all know about bird watching and train spotting, but what about tree spotting? Thanks to a new book by Owen Johnson from Kew Publishing - "Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland" - we can all now entertain ourselves, our children and our grandchildren with the new Tree Register Handbook, which lists all the champion trees in the United Kingdom - the biggest, the tallest, the widest, the rarest and the oldest, plus where to find them!

I have to confess I was slightly cautious when I first approached this book, but within five minutes I was hooked! And what's so exciting about this publication is that all these astounding facts become reality when you realise that you can actually source many of these trees when you're visiting gardens around the country, thus adding another whole new dimension to garden visits.
Hergest Croft, Herefordshire (to be reviewed next week) has 39 champions
Some of the information is surprising! I would have thought that The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst Place would have had the largest collection of champion trees in the UK. But no, it's the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, with 535 champions, while Kew and Wakehurst combined come in with nearly 100 less! Other surprises include Borde Hill, West Sussex, which has 82 champions, Castle Howard in Yorkshire, with 77 and Tresco Abbey - an island in the Atlantic - with 61! Hergest Croft, reviewed this month, comes in with 39 champions.

So interesting is this book that I keep dipping back into it to find more titillating tree tales! Certainly a great present and one for a rainy day like today. And from now on, I'll be looking out for those special trees! Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland: The Tree Register Handbook (ISBN 978 184246 452 6) costs £25 and is available via or from any good bookseller.


  1. That is on the Christmas list then! Thanks for flagging it.

    I have stood under the vast lime tree in Kew Gardens when it was in full, intoxicating blossom - a simple but unforgettable memory. I wonder if that favourite of mine makes it into the book?

  2. We have been working with some members of a similar group (historical tree experts) in US. They all have amazing tree stories as well. I'm guessing this book is quite fabulous and I'll be looking for it at

  3. I also will be on the look out for this book, I have always loved trees as my latest post suggests.

  4. Champion trees are very interesting, especially if you can get to know a bit of an area's history by knowing the history of the tree. We have champion Pawlonia (Princess tree) which is the largest in our state, West Virginia, USA,
    If I ever make it to England, I will want to read this book first.

  5. Looks like a great book, and I'm sure the history enclosed in its pages is fascinating. There are so many great stories about grand trees and the people who planted them.

  6. Look like a fascinating book! I would really like to visit the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens.