Authors strike gold with The New Sylva

Authors strike gold with The New Sylva

There is a tree-mendous celebration going on at the National Botanic Garden of Wales to mark the launch of The New Sylva – a sumptuous 400-page book celebrating trees and forests of the UK.

An exhibition in the Garden’s gallery will feature some of the 200 new pen and ink drawings by Sarah Simblet which adorn the book, published by Bloomsbury this month.

There are events all around the Garden to complement the exhibition, which is on until May 31. There will be family activities with a strong arboreal flavour, tree medicine workshops and demonstrations, weaving, den-building, as well as whistle and walking-stick making.

The Garden’s very first Woodland Walk Weekend (April 26-27) will shift the focus to the trees of Pont Felin Gat with expert-led walks, more family activities and a special tree trail, which will take visitors down to the woods, across the National Nature Reserve and around the Garden.

There are more than 100 species celebrated in Gabriel Hemery’s The New Sylva which has been created to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the publication – in 1664 – of horticulturist and diarist John Evelyn’s Sylva, the first comprehensive study of British trees.

This landmark publication was the world’s earliest forestry book, and the first book ever published by the Royal Society.

The world has changed dramatically since Evelyn’s day but his elegant prose still has a lot to tell us. Taking inspiration from his work, the authors  of The New Sylva have created a masterful, contemporary version – a fabulous resource that describes all of the most important species of tree that populate our landscape.

In the first part of the book, silvologist Gabriel Hemery explains what trees really mean to us culturally, environmentally and economically. This is followed by 44 detailed tree portrait sections that describe the history and the features of trees such as oak, elm, beech, hornbeam, willow, fir, pine, juniper, plane, apple and pear.

The pages are brought to life with the breathtaking artwork of artist and co-author Sarah Simblet, who captures the delicacy, strength and beauty of the trees through the seasons in 200 exquisite drawings.

With an interplay of black and red type on creamy paper, The New Sylva recalls all the charm of traditional bookmaking. And at a moment when it is vitally important for us to rediscover how to treasure our trees, the time for this visionary, beautiful book is now.

* The New Sylva exhibition is on from April 17 to May 31 in the Garden’s Gallery

* The New Sylva is on sale in the Garden Gift Shop, priced £50

* New Sylva exhibitions are also taking place at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; in Glasnevin, the National Botanic Gardens of Dublin; and Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll

* This is the first time that prominent botanic gardens in Britain and Ireland have participated in a joint venture of this nature. Each venue is preparing an individual programme of activities including talks, drawing workshops, guided walks and family activities.

* Follow The New Sylva blog at

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One Response to “Authors strike gold with The New Sylva”

  1. Ivor Evans says:

    Does Margot have a copy of
    “The New Sylva” in the Botanic Library?
    If not, I would like to provide one.
    Can I simply buy one from the shop and leave it Margot’s pigeon-hole?
    Ivor Friday buggy