CATEGORY   Natural History, Food, Walking

Hardcover, 80 pages, 297 x 254 mm, illustrated with 50 watercolour paintings and 15 pencil sketches, 1993

Viking ISBN 978-0-670-84001-4

Gordon Beningfield

Britain’s woodlands are cherished by everyone who loves the countryside and values its richness. Few people who have been lucky enough to see a bluebell wood in spring will forget this magical experience, and the splendour of an ancient oakwood is a truly impressive sight. Sadly, only a fraction of this country’s once extensive forests, woods and coppices remain, and all too few of them are properly managed. Almost nothing has survived of the variety of crafts and industries that they once supported. But the pockets of woodland that remain harbour some of our most attractive animals and plants, as this beautiful book shows.

Gordon Beningfield has sought out some of the quiet corners where English woodland continues to flourish in all its glory, and reminds us of the delights to be found in this most precious part of our natural heritage. Here are the pollarded beeches, the old oak trees with their enormous gnarled trunks, the primroses on mossy banks and the delicate wood anemones scattered across the woodland floor. Gordon Beningfield also celebrates the wildlife of the woods: tawny owls, woodpeckers, foxes and fallow deer, and – a Beningfield speciality, this – the woodland butterflies. There is room, too, for the creatures that are not wholly wood-dwelling but depend on woodland for sustenance, cover or a place to raise their young. In this glorious collection of watercolours and sketches, all produced specially for this book, Beningfield once again delights us both with his skill as an artist and with his countryman’s eye for detail.

GORDON BENINGFIELD (1936-98), son of a Thames lighterman, began his career as an ecclesiastical artist, with commissions that included a memorial window for the Household Cavalry in the Guards Chapel. From the early 1960s he built a reputation as a talented, versatile wildlife and countryside artist and became a passionate and influential advocate for the protection of the English countryside.