Author talk at Surrey History Centre

Author Gabriel Hemery will be talking about The New Sylva at the Surrey History Centre in Woking at 1430 on 4th October. The centre is just 14 miles from the John Evelyn’s birthplace at Wotton House.

Gabriel’s talk will be illustrated with the exquisite drawings of artist Sarah Simblet. An exhibition about John Evelyn’s work will be on show alongside Evelyn’s letters, diaries and copies of Sylva which are now in the care of Surrey History Centre.

Bloomsbury, the publisher of The New Sylva, has kindly donated a copy of the book to be given away to one lucky member of the audience at the event on 4 October. Signed copies will be available to purchase.

To read more about the talk and to book your place – see here



Review in Times Literary Supplement

“. . . an authoritative, up-to-date survey of modern forestry practice, set picturesquely . . .  among quotations and decorations from the first such book to be written in England.”


“There is a brief accountant of tree biology, then a long series of chapters on all the main British species of trees . . . These are delightful chapters: Hemery describes the trees attractively one by one, often coming up with fascinating facts about them, but concentrates always on the soundest methods of growing them . . .”


“[Evelyn's] many appearances in the text, the starred quotations from him that dot the pages, and even the layouts and occasional typography from Sylva, while they may seem bizarre in a scholarly work, nevertheless add something striking and worthwhile to the book.”


“The other important feature of the book is its illustrations. Black-and-white drawings by Sarah Simblet crowd the pages. They have an easy grace, while illustrating their subjects in the finest detail. They range from a bud on a twig to a whole tree in the landscape.”

Cherries, oaks and shifting beech – by Derwent May
Times Literary Supplement, August 8th 2014

Online access (for subscribers)

Review for the Royal Forestry Society

“In the forty years of my professional career and the ten years of my retirement I have read and reviewed many forestry books but this is by far the most outstanding in its style, content, illustrations, readability and historical value.”

“Some 350 years after Evelyn’s publication, Hemery and Simblet have produced a magnum opus of the same style and with the same intent – to encourage political and public awareness of the importance of trees to the nation and their value to individual growers and users.”

Professor Jeffery Burley
Quarterly Journal of Forestry, July 2014, Vol 108, No.3
Royal Forestry Society

Authors talk at the Chalke Valley History Festival

Hemery and Simblet at Chalke Valley History Festival

Hemery and Simblet at the Chalke Valley History Festival. Photo CVHF.

Gabriel Hemery and Sarah Simblet enjoyed talking about the history of forestry in Britain, of John Evelyn and his Sylva, and the making of The New Sylva at the Chalke Valley History Festival.

They had a large and informed audience, with questions from the floor ranging from whether sweet chestnut bark spirals both clockwise and anticlockwise (and whether it changes in the northern or southern hemisphere), the technical details of the paper that artist Sarah Simblet uses, to wanting more information about the Sylva Foundation and its work in tackling Chalara ash dieback (see the Living Ash Project:

Afterwards they signed books with support from Waterstones (who promptly sold out). Note that signed copies are available to purchase online at the shop of the Sylva Foundation (proceeds to charity).


Review by Tony Kirkham in Forestry and Timber News


“This amazing work is a celebration of John Evelyn and is not just a pretty book, but a reference work captured and packed with useful information by Gabriel Hemery that will be used by many horticulturists and arboriculturists.”

“The text is very easy to read and makes compulsive reading, but one of the highlights which will make sure that this book is left on the coffee table and not placed on the bookshelf is the two-hundred beautiful line drawings that are meticulously and accurately drawn by Sarah Simblet, illustrating this wonderful work and capturing the essence of our truly magical woodlands and arboreta.”

Tony Kirkham, Head of the Arboretum, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Forestry & Timber News, June 2014