As leaves return to Toronto's trees, the city softens. Rough urban edges are smoothed out, and we, along with thousands of resident and migrating birds, are grateful for this canopy of green.
If you are interested in researching trees, in, and beyond your backyard, consider coming into the Business, Science and Technology Department of the Toronto Reference Library.
To immerse yourself in the wonder of trees, I recommend Remarkable Trees of the World, by Thomas Pakenham. The author travels the world to photograph trees with incredible histories, such as the hollow Australian "Prison Boab." Legend has it that Aboriginal prisoners were detained during a march at the turn of the century within this tree. The Boab is the Australian species of the Baobab, and some of these huge, ancient, hollow trees are over 1000 years old. These trees have played a significant role in Aboriginal life, serving as gathering places and storage areas.
In addition to amazing photographs, Trees: a Visual Guide contains excellent diagrams and cross sections of everything from bark to roots. This is an easy book to dip into and the close up photos are fascinating and beautiful.
For tree identification, Trees of Ontario, including Tall Shrubs, is an excellent guide with photographs of foliage, flowers and bark, as well as location maps and silhouettes of the full tree. This field guide is great for excursions.
For more in-depth information, we also have The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trees with its beautiful detailed paintings. This book has a European focus though, so an alternative is The Encyclopedia of Trees: Canada and the United States, which discusses each tree's range, its habitat, and the wood's commercial uses.
Don't forget to sign up if you want the city to plant a tree in your front yard!