Peer reviewed by Dr Chris Cattle
Knowledge to grow Shaped Trees
Pook and Becky’s involvement with training their trees goes back a long way now, and in this lavishly illustrated book, they pass on a wealth of the knowledge they’ve gained over the years, taking us through the various aspects of the process, whether these shaped trees are to be harvested, carved and highly finished, or left ‘as grown’ in the ground.
While some of the information is – as the authors themselves say – largely common sense, a useful amount of more technical stuff is included, and it’s presented simply and clearly.
The appearance of the book is attractive, as is the tone of the writing, and we are reminded that humans change their environment in just the same way as other creatures do. The trees are approached sympathetically though, as objects whose natural growth habits we should understand, and with which we should work harmoniously.
Full of useful information, this is no dry text book, and the pictures used to explain and demonstrate the various techniques (and to show the finished products) provide plenty of evidence that the advice given has indeed been gained from practical experience.
As anyone who has worked with living trees will know, this whole process must take it’s time, and you must have the patience to work in the long term. With the help of this book however, even a novice grower and trainer can start with the advantage of many years experience.
Dr Christopher Cattle now has retired from a career designing furniture for mass production, and subsequently lecturing in Higher Education, he started growing and training trees rather late in life. His grown stool idea with its simple frame, was the least complex grown form he could conceive, and having grown some simply to prove the viability of the idea, it has developed into an absorbing personal project.
Setting out to encourage others to ‘grow-it-themselves’ as a means of promoting environmental awareness, He has exhibited and lectured in the UK, France and Japan, with growing schemes involving primary schools or other educational establishments particular favorites of his. In this connection he have made contacts as far apart as Europe, Australia and Japan, Canada and the USA.
Living and working in urban environments has meant that he had to depend on others for growing and exhibiting space, a disadvantage partially offset by the encouragement it gave me to try growing furniture in large pots. That this can work is shown by the fact that eight of the current crop of seventeen stools are growing in this way. Following early experiments with several species of tree, he now uses and recommend either Sycamore or one of the Maples, while Ash has also proved successful.
In addition to ‘over the counter’ sales at exhibitions, the plywood frame used to support and train the growing saplings to shape can be sent packed flat to local enquirers, while the internet enables him to send working drawings to enquirers all around the world. For more information go to grown-furniture.co.uk