The Legacy of John Evelyn’s “Sylva”

Note: Here’s my latest “Leading Thoughts” article from the new edition of TREE Press, the monthly newsletter of TREE Fund, of which I am President and CEO.

Before coming to TREE Fund, I served as Executive Director of the Salisbury House Foundation, which owns and operates an amazing historic house museum in Des Moines, Iowa. Salisbury House was built in the 1920s within a glorious 12-acre oak forest, and its owners – cosmetics magnate Carl Weeks and his wife Edith – worked diligently to protect the grand old trees around their 42-room manor home, most of which still provide shade to the house and gardens.

Carl Weeks was an extraordinary collector of rare books and documents, and one of the great delights in my work at Salisbury House was being able to study, work with, and teach from his 3,500-book library. One of items in the collection was an early edition of John Evelyn’s Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber in His Majesty’s Dominions (c. 1664-1670), arguably the first great treatise in the English language on the science, care and importance of trees. It was a massive success then, and has remained in print for over 350 years.

While Evelyn appreciated the beauty of trees, his underlying call to action was an economic one: trees provided fuel, building supplies, food, defense, and a litany of other crucial day-to-day needs in pre-industrial England, and the island’s forests were being denuded in the aftermath of the English Civil War. “We had better be without gold than without timber,” Evelyn wrote, encouraging land owners to plant trees as a matter of patriotic obligation. His countrymen heard him, and many old English forests today are home to trees planted by Sylva’s earliest devotees.

On April 27, 2018, millions of people across our own country will honor National Arbor Day by planting trees, providing innumerable benefits, some that John Evelyn understood in the 1660s — but many others of which are known to us now only through the types of modern scientific research empowered by TREE Fund. You can further this ongoing scientific legacy by making a gift to TREE Fund’s Arbor Day Appeal. We’re proud to work on behalf of our trees and the people who care for them, and take pride in being a link in a chain of inquiry that spans centuries – and will benefit those who follow us for centuries to come.

Click on “Sylva” to make your own contribution on behalf of our urban and community forests, and the professionals who study and care for them.

My Top 200 Albums Of All Time (2018 Update)

A couple of years have passed since I last refreshed my all-time favorite albums list, and when a friend recently noted that my alleged Top 200 roster actually contained 202 entries, I figured it was time for an update.

I’ve been keeping a master list of favorite albums since the very early ’70s, when I was a grade school Steppenwolf fan. My tastes have evolved dramatically over the years (though I still like Steppenwolf), so I review and update this list periodically, dropping things that haven’t aged well, and adding new things that excite me and seem to have staying power.

For many years, this was a “Top 100 List,” but as I’ve gotten older, I feel entitled to expand the roster beyond the century mark, since I’ve listened to a whole lot more music now than I had when I was younger. I also used to exclude “Greatest Hits” and other compilation or live albums, but I’ve gotten less uptight about that, too, since for some artists, their best work may have appeared on singles that only saw long-form release in the form of “Best Of” collections.

So here’s the update, in alphabetical order by artist name. As soon as I post this list, I will invariably change my mind about something, but that’s the beauty of updates, right? Watch this space in 2020 to see what I got wrong this time!

  1. AC/DC: Back in Black
  2. Allison, Mose: Swingin’ Machine
  3. Bauhaus: The Sky’s Gone Out
  4. Beef: Stink, Stank, Stunk
  5. Beefheart, Captain and the Magic Band: Clear Spot
  6. Beefheart, Captain and the Magic Band: The Spotlight Kid
  7. Beefheart, Captain and the Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica
  8. Birthday Party: Junkyard
  9. Black Flag: Damaged
  10. Bogmen: Life Begins at 40 Million
  11. Bongwater: The Power of Pussy
  12. Bonzo Dog Band: Keynsham
  13. Bonzo Dog Band: The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse
  14. Bowie, David: “Heroes”
  15. Bowie, David: Lodger
  16. Bowie, David: Blackstar
  17. Buggy Jive: The Buggy Jive Mix Tape
  18. Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey
  19. Bush, Kate: Hounds of Love
  20. Bush, Kate: The Dreaming
  21. Butthole Surfers: Hairway to Steven
  22. Butthole Surfers: Locust Abortion Technician
  23. Camberwell Now: All’s Well
  24. Camper Van Beethoven: Camper Van Beethoven
  25. Cave, Nick and the Bad Seeds: Henry’s Dream
  26. Cave, Nick and the Bad Seeds: Tender Prey
  27. Chance The Rapper: Coloring Book
  28. Chap: Mega Breakfast
  29. Christian Death: Catastrophe Ballet
  30. Clash: Combat Rock
  31. Clutch: Book of Bad Decisions
  32. Clutch: Elephant Riders
  33. Clutch: Robot Hive/Exodus
  34. Clutch: Psychic Warfare
  35. Coil: Backwards
  36. Coil: Horse Rotorvator
  37. Coil: The Ape of Naples
  38. Collider: WCYF
  39. Coup: Sorry to Bother You
  40. Coup: Sorry to Bother You: The Soundtrack
  41. Cramps: Bad Music for Bad People
  42. Cypress Hill: Cypress Hill
  43. Dälek: Absence
  44. Dälek: Gutter Tactics
  45. Davis, Jed: Small Sacrifices Must Be Made
  46. Death Grips: Ex-Military
  47. Death Grips: Government Plates
  48. Department of Eagles: The Cold Nose
  49. Devo: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
  50. Diamond, Neil: Tap Root Manuscript
  51. Dogbowl: Flan
  52. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment: Surf
  53. Dunnery, Francis: Tall Blonde Helicopter
  54. Eagles: Desperado
  55. Earth, Wind and Fire: All n’ All
  56. Einsturzende Neubauten: Halber Mensch
  57. Einsturzende Neubauten: Haus der Luge
  58. Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Tarkus
  59. Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Trilogy
  60. Emerson, Lake and Palmer: Brain Salad Surgery
  61. Eno, Brian: Here Come the Warm Jets
  62. Eno, Brian: Another Green World
  63. Eno, Brian: Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
  64. Eno, Brian: Before And After Science
  65. Fall: Hex Enduction Hour
  66. Fall: The Real New Fall LP (Formerly Country on the Click)
  67. Fall: Imperial Wax Solvent
  68. Fall: New Facts Emerge
  69. Family: Bandstand
  70. Family: Fearless
  71. Fear: The Record
  72. First Aid Kit: Stay Gold
  73. First Aid Kit: Ruins
  74. Fleetwood Mac: Future Games
  75. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
  76. Focus: Live At The Rainbow
  77. Funkadelic: Maggotbrain
  78. Funkadelic: American Eats Its Young
  79. Gabriel, Peter: Peter Gabriel (III/Melt)
  80. Gang of Four: Entertainment!
  81. Gay Tastee: Songs for the Sodomites
  82. Genesis: Duke
  83. Genesis: Abacab
  84. Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  85. Goat: World Music
  86. Good Rats: Birth Comes to Us All
  87. Good Rats: Tasty
  88. Grateful Dead: American Beauty
  89. Grateful Dead: Workingman’s Dead
  90. Hall, Daryl: Sacred Songs
  91. Hall, Terry and Mushtaq: The Hour Of Two Lights
  92. Hanslick Rebellion: The Rebellion is Here
  93. Hawkwind: Doremi Fasol Latido
  94. Hawkwind: Space Ritual
  95. Head, Jowe and the Demi-Monde: Diabolical Liberties
  96. Hitchcock, Robyn and the Egyptians: Element of Light
  97. Human Sexual Response: 14
  98. Human Sexual Response: In a Roman Mood
  99. Husker Du: Zen Arcade
  100. Idles: Brutalism
  101. Idles: Joy As An Act of Resistance
  102. Jarre, Jean-Michel: Equinoxe
  103. Jesu/Sun Kil Moon: Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
  104. Jethro Tull: Songs From the Wood
  105. Jethro Tull: The Broadsword and the Beast
  106. JethroTull: Heavy Horses
  107. Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick
  108. Jethro Tull: A Passion Play
  109. Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
  110. Joy Division: Closer
  111. Juluka: Scatterlings
  112. Kamikaze Hearts: Oneida Road
  113. Kaukonen, Jorma: Quah
  114. Keineg, Katell: Jet
  115. Killdozer: Twelve Point Buck
  116. King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black
  117. King Crimson: Red
  118. King Crimson: Lizard
  119. Kraftwerk: Trans-Europe Express
  120. Kraftwerk: Minimum-Maximum
  121. Kurki-Suonio, Sanna: Musta
  122. Lateef, Yusef: Eastern Sounds
  123. Lateef, Yusef: The Complete Yusef Lateef
  124. Michael Nyman: A Zed and Two Noughts (Original Soundtrack)
  125. Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime
  126. Mitchel, Joni: For the Roses
  127. Mitchell, John Cameron and Stephen Trask: Hedwig And The Angry Inch
  128. Mos Def: The Ecstatic
  129. Mould, Bob: District Line
  130. Napalm Death: Time Waits For No Slave
  131. Napalm Death: Utilitarian
  132. Napalm Death: Apex Predator — Easy Meat
  133. New Order: Movement
  134. New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies
  135. Octopus: Restless Night
  136. Parliament: Chocolate City
  137. Pas/Cal: I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke and Laura
  138. Pere Ubu: The Modern Dance
  139. Pere Ubu: Terminal Tower
  140. Phair, Liz: Exile in Guyville
  141. Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
  142. Pink Floyd: The Wall
  143. Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet
  144. R.E.M.: Life’s Rich Pageant
  145. Renaldo and the Loaf: Songs for Swinging Larvae
  146. Replacements: Let It Be
  147. Replacements: Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
  148. Robbins, Marty: Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs
  149. Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St.
  150. Rose, Caroline: Loner
  151. Roxy Music: For Your Pleasure
  152. Rundgren, Todd: Healing
  153. Rush: Signals
  154. Schnell Fenster, The Sound of Trees
  155. Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel: Nail
  156. Sepultura: Roots
  157. Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
  158. Shriekback: Oil and Gold
  159. Simon and Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence
  160. Six Feet Under: Warpath
  161. Smiths: Hatful of Hollow
  162. Smiths: Louder Than Bombs
  163. Snog: Last of the Great Romantics
  164. Special A.K.A.: In the Studio
  165. Steely Dan: Aja
  166. Steely Dan: The Royal Scam
  167. Steely Dan: Can’t Buy A Thrill
  168. Steppenwolf: Gold
  169. Swans: Filth
  170. Swans: Holy Money
  171. Talking Heads: Fear of Music
  172. Television Personalities: Closer to God
  173. This Heat: Deceit
  174. Tosh, Peter: Mama Africa
  175. Tragic Mulatto: Italians Fall Down and Look Up Your Dress
  176. Tsukerman, Slava et. al.: Liquid Sky (Original Soundtrack)
  177. Utopia: Utopia
  178. Utopia: Swing to the Right
  179. Van Halen: Van Halen
  180. Vek, Tom: Luck
  181. Wailer, Bunny: Blackheart Man
  182. Wall of Voodoo: Happy Planet
  183. Wall of Voodoo: Seven Days in Sammystown
  184. Wasted: We Are Already in Hell
  185. Weasels: Uranus or Bust
  186. Weasels: AARP Go the Weasels
  187. Weasels: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow
  188. Ween: Quebec
  189. Ween: The Mollusk
  190. Who: Who’s Next
  191. Wings: Band on the Run
  192. Wings: Venus and Mars
  193. Wire: The Ideal Copy
  194. Wire: Silver/Lead
  195. XTC: Black Sea
  196. XTC: English Settlement
  197. Yes: The Yes Album
  198. Yes: Fragile
  199. Zappa, Frank and the Mothers of Invention: One Size Fits All
  200. Zappa, Frank: Joe’s Garage, Parts I, II and III