This book could well be compared to a box of the most luxurious and delicious liqueur chocolates. It presents 100 tree species with each account so rich in information, so interesting in content and so delightful in illustration that it is better to approach reading the book as one would the box of chocolates – no more than a few at a time – for ease of digestion, for best enjoyment and for deepest appreciation. In the plant world trees are surely the champions; they impress us by their sheer size; they are the backbone of our gardens and of the most pleasant scenes of our countryside; their lifespan dwarfs that of man; they have provided material for our homes, food for our tables and items of use in our everyday lives; they have been objects of veneration but above all have been a source of great beauty in our world. It is difficult to imagine our world without them or not to be in awe of their might, wonder and beauty. the splendour of the tree It is with this sense of wonder, awe and admiration that Noel Kingsbury writes about his selection of trees. Each entry is a celebration of that particular species, a happy sharing of his knowledge and delight in that tree and it is infectious. Throughout the entries there is a common thread of what great value these trees are to us as people; how important they are to the world but expressed in a mood of celebration rather than the more common approach of the reader being almost scolded to take care of the trees or great disaster will surely come our way.  This book is one of pure joyous celebration and is a pleasure to read – though, be warned, to be read at ease, little by little. The trees are presented in six groups: “Antiquity” considers the immense age of some species and individuals – some dating back to the dinosaurs. “Ecology” sees them as members of plant communities and their relationships with other trees, plants and animals. “Sacred” looks at those trees which have had important spiritual or mythological roles. “Food” well, that’s obvious. “Ornament” deals with those we have selected to add beauty to our cities, parks and gardens. This grouping of the trees was, I felt, little more than a device to break up the entries and to give the reader an occasional break in format. The photographer for the book, Andrea Jones has a trail of beautiful books behind her and her work is widely admired and praised. Of immediate relevance is that she has just (November 26, 2014) been awarded the prize “Book Photographer of the Year” for her work on this very book, The Splendour of the Tree, and her photographs are certainly both a perfect accompaniment to  the text and a collection of beautiful images in their own right. This is a book where we have an excellent writer – I do so enjoy reading a book which is well written – and where we have fabulous photographs to accompany the text and where Frances Lincoln, the publishers, have designed and put it all together so wonderfully. I have enjoyed it immensely and recommend it unhesitatingly. Treat yourself for Christmas or start dropping hints now! [Frances Lincoln, 2014, Hardback, 288 pages, £25] Buy the book here at Frances Lincoln or at Amazon Paddy Tobin