Once, farmers knew how to make a living hedge and fed their flocks on tree-branch hay. Rural people knew how to prune hazel to foster abundance: both of edible nuts, and of straight, strong, flexible rods for bridges, walls, and baskets. Townspeople cut their beeches to make charcoal to fuel ironworks. Shipwrights shaped oaks to make hulls. No place could prosper without its inhabitants knowing how to cut their trees so they would sprout again.
Pruning the trees didn't destroy them. Rather, it created the healthiest, most sustainable and most diverse woodlands that we have ever known. In this journey from the English fens to Spain, Japan, and California, William Bryant Logan rediscovers what was once an everyday ecology. He offers us both practical knowledge about how to live with trees to mutual benefit and hope that humans may again learn what the persistence and generosity of trees can teach.