By Thibaud Hérem
Published by Cicada ISBN 978-1-908714-52-7
Review by Lorna Brazell
Thibaud Hérem, like many of us, a city dweller only one generation deep, rediscovered the amazing sense of achievement, continuity and hope that can come from growing things for yourself after a flatmate was given two packets of tree seeds by a client.
In Raising a Forest he shares the experiences he has accumulated over the last few years, growing fifty different species of tree (mainly in pots) in the tiny garden of his flat in London. Trees – those tall green objects which so many of us drive and walk past without noticing, every day – really are amazingly variable, when you open your eyes to look at them as individuals. And study after study has shown that people’s mental health improves when they have more trees in the vicinity. But most of us imagine you need a huge suburban garden before you can grow your very own tree.
Thibaud’s book makes it possible to imagine, and maybe even try, doing it yourself, no matter how small the space you call home. The equipment he has used, the pots, the current forms of the saplings, and the botanical essentials of seeds, leaves and bark types, are all clearly and lovingly illustrated, with favoured trees given a full page each and the iconic family of oaks a double page spread.
The seasonal changes bring the world’s natural rhythms into immediate focus as more than just a change in the type of weather to grumble over. For such a small book, this provides a surprisingly effective window into a wider, parallel world, and a great way for “tree beginners” of all ages to start to appreciate them more fully.