Given the extent of his influence on 17th-century life, and his lasting impact on the British landscape it is remarkable that no book has been written before about John Evelyn. He was a longstanding friend of Samuel Pepys (who wrote of him, 'A most excellent person he is, and must be allowed a little for conceitedness; but he may well be so, being a man so much above others.'), a founder-member of the Royal Society and a prolific writer and diarist. He was an early advocate of the garden city but his most important work was "Sylva: a Discourse of Forest Trees". "Sylva" was presented to the Royal Society to promote the planting of timber trees 'for the supply of the Navy, the employment and advantage of the poor as well as the ornamenting of the nation.' He was responsible for the first great raft of tree-planting and for a great influx of tree introductions to Britain. Maggie Campbell-Culver's book, like "Sylva", has at its core a section detailing the characteristics, history and uses of 33 trees incorporating the advice Evelyn gave and demonstrating its relevance still in the 20th-century.
Not only was Evelyn probably the first horticultural writer to show an appreciation of the aesthetic benefits of trees in our landscape, he is shown to be a founder-father of the modern conservation movement.
Maggie Campbell-Culver is an editor of the new edition of The Oxford Companion to Gardens and writes regularly for the Eden Friends Magazine, Historic Garden Review, the Saturday Telegraph and NCCPG Journal. She has been a member of the Garden History Society for twenty years and of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens since its inception. She managed the running and restoration of Mount Edgcumbe, the Grade 1 Historic Garden overlooking Plymouth Sound. She was a founder member of the Garden Trust Movement and Vice-chairman of the Cornwall Gardens Trust. She was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 2001. Maggie danced as a teenager with the Ballet Rambert, then studied garden history and worked on the excavation of Fishbourne Roman Palace in Sussex before moving to Cornwall and self-sufficiency in 1974. While living near Bodmin she was heavily involved with the Wadebridge Bookshop. She now lives in Brittany with her husband Michael.
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