Since a child, I have believed that trees hold stories in them, that their bark and leaves and branches have seen history go by, heard rumors and lies and tall tales, and that these living listeners hide all of this historical luggage, somewhere inside. The book Wise Trees by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel is evidence of the storytelling that I have always believed in and have been waiting to read and see.
Please join me as we take a closer look:
Photography by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel.
To create Wise Trees, leading landscape photographers Diane Cook and Len Jenshel traveled for two years and went to roughly 60 places across five continents to document a selection of our world’s most historic and awe-inspiring trees.
Feeling a sense of urgency while these notable trees were healthy and still standing strong, the authors captured the beauty and structure and shadows, and paid tribute to all the trees in their various locations, in places such as Colorado, Texas, New Zealand, and Japan.
More than 60 trees and their accompanying stories grace the pages, and each tree tells a different tale. Some are uplifting recounts of sacred, ancient trees such as a massive camphor in Japan dating back 2,000 years, and other trees are the focus of religious ceremonies, including the Hanuman Temple Pipal tree in India where the tree is prayed to daily and offered devotions. There is even one juniper tree in California called the Shoe Tree; it is a variation of a wishing tree with branches hung with random shoes inscribed with wishes. And then there are the superhero trees that have endured bombs and chainsaws but have miraculously come out the other side and survived.
Every tree in Wise Trees was carefully chosen to help us become aware and appreciate and honor the role that trees have played and how they have influenced and created countless cultures and lives.
Of course we need trees for our survival; trees provide the oxygen we breath and give us food to eat and wood to burn and build, plus we use them for cultural ceremonies, but the question is: Do trees need us? I am not totally sure of the answer but I do feel that we are partners on this planet—and Wise Trees helps tell the story of how and where trees and humanity come together.
See more of our favorite ways integrate trees into a garden: