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The Secret Life of a Woodland Habitat  (Hardback)

Life Through the Seasons

Colour Books Hobbies & Lifestyle > Nature Hobbies & Lifestyle > Outdoors Photographic Books

By Chloé Valerie Harmsworth
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9781399093347
Published: 28th October 2022



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Delve deep into the trees and find wonder in our UK woodlands.

Step back from the pressures of everyday life and reconnect with nature and its mindful magic with this absorbing and engaging guide. Learn what you can see at different times of the year and recognise the stunning trees, flowers and plants, multi-hued birds and insects, and mysterious mammals that call these habitats home. Soon you will be marvelling at rutting deer, soaking up the view of beautiful bluebells, and entering the world of bumbling badgers and fantastic foxes, while also enjoying the rapturous sound of glorious birdsong.

Press pause on your modern worries and go back to your ancestors’ roots by foraging for nuts and berries. Become aware of the signs that indicate one season transforming into another. Search for fairytale mushrooms and at the same time understand why they are essential to our environment. Discover the science, history and folklore associated with the oak, ash and birch.

On your seasonal adventures through our enigmatic woodlands, be humbled by their importance to our interconnected ecosystem, and be inspired to protect these precious places for the betterment of the world. This accessible guide, with its attractive and original photos, will help you to build an everlasting bond with your local wildlife and woodlands, thus enriching your well-being and life.

Such a beautiful photographic guide to the changing seasons in UK woodland. Captivating images of a variety of animals, flora and fauna. A must for any nature lover.

NetGalley, Kelly Furniss

I just finished this book, and I loved it. The journey through the wildlife and plants of woodland through the seasons was so beautifully told. Simply, but also beautifully! I feel like I learned a lot, and I also felt inspired by reading this book.

Amazon Customer, J M Burgoyne

An absolutely captivating read. Harmsworth goes a lot deeper than the average nature writer, showing her in-depth knowledge of and passion for the woodlands. The inclusion of folklore elements was especially enjoyable, and not something you usually find in this type of book.
Her photos also complement her words perfectly, bringing them to life.
This would be the perfect present for a nature enthusiast, or an amateur just starting out. Highly recommended!

Amazon Customer, Stefan Glosby

This beautiful book is a wonderful guide to British woodlands and all the life within them, accompanied by Chloé’s amazing photographs and evocative writing. Woodlands are my favourite outdoor spaces because they always feel like shelter, and this is a book I’ll be diving into time and again.

Goodreads, Tiffany Francis-Baker

Book review featured in

How It Works

I at first intended to read this book in time with the seasons - and I think I will probably do this at some point - but I got the flu, and finished it in about a week. At a time when I felt rubbish, this book gave me entertainment, and also a feeling of peace. It also made me want to go for a walk in the woods, which I did (well, there were some trees) once I had recovered.
Since then, I managed to get a question right in University Challenge because of this book, and have also spouted out various other facts. This is unusual for me - I don't normally have the best memory - but Chloe's prose is so clear, so quietly beautiful, and the subject matter is so interesting, that things have stuck with me.
This book in some ways appears as an introduction to woodlands, and I guess in a way it is; but do not let this make you think that it isn't a brilliant book, full of facts and wonder. I loved it.

Goodreads, Jax Burgoyne

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Secret Life of a Woodland Habitat is a beautifully photographed and well written look at a woodland habitat by Chloé Valerie Harmsworth. Released 14th Dec 2022 by Pen & Sword on their White Owl imprint, it's 128 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats.

There have been so many studies and research showing that living a life divorced from nature and wildness increases stress and has a negative effect on mental and physical health. The need for nature connection has led to movements to change the way we educate (more wilderness and outdoor time for preschoolers through university students), green spaces in our workplaces, even "prescriptions" for outdoor and nature/wild time for everything from stress to depression to physical issues such as autoimmune flare-ups.

The author does a brilliant job of showing a year's cycle in a woodland managed by the Woodland Trust. It's a gentle book, a contemplative book, and it's full of colourful macro photos which show close up details. There are poems for each season, and the author does a good job of both showing the beauty of nature close to home as well as explaining in accessible terms why it's vitally important to our physical and mental health as well as to the interconnected health of our planet.

Five stars. Gorgeous project, well executed. This would make a good choice for public or school library acquisition or home use. Readers should note that the specific woodland covered in the book is in the UK, but there are takeaways for readers everywhere.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

As featured in

Hertfordshire Living

Article: Author's new book encourages residents to explore nature

St Albans News

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing, informative, and fascinating. The descriptions of animals and plants that made me wish I was in that place
Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Spending time in woodlands is incredibly enriching, educational and therapeutic. The author of The Secret Life of a Woodland Habitat explains why it is so important for humans to (re)connect with nature. Though the focus is on UK woodlands, the premise is the same for all woodlands. We need them in so many ways and they are for everyone. They must be respected and cared for. Being immersed in nature is of extreme importance to me and it teaches me something each day. This book seems custom designed for nature nuts like me! It is divided into seasons and includes birds, animals, insects, trees, butterflies, flowers and fungi and their interrelations. Also fascinating are how to differentiate between similar species such as the beech and hornbeam. Not only are the delights of the woodlands detailed but also the importance of awareness and conservation. Gorgeous photography dazzles.

Though I am a forager and a passionate woodlands lover, there is much to learn here. It is mind boggling to realize that 2,300 species of creatures rely on the oak and that undisturbed primroses can bloom February through March for decades. It was fun to learn more about shyer animals such as pine martens, slow worms and hedgehogs and their habitats and the phenomenon of anting. Though I often see them, I did not know the name of the swollen-thighed flower beetle. How interesting it would be to see a Tamworth pig in the wild!

If you are curious about the inner workings of nature and/or enjoy the outdoors, this book has your name on it. And if you are keen to get outdoors, this is a wonderful place to start. You will surely be inspired,

My sincere thank you to Pen & Sword and NetGalley for the privilege of learning from this superb book!

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a beautiful book! It was a genuine pleasure to read this book and to follow a patch of woodlands through each of the four seasons.
Between Harmsworth's obvious love and enthusiasm for nature and the inclusion of many beautiful photographs, it was impossible not to fall in love with that space myself.

Living in Australia, it was very interesting to me to see the different flora and fauna and the way the seasons present themselves compared to my home environment.

This is a genuine lovely read and I highly recommend it to all fans of the natural world.

NetGalley, Kel Wheeldon

4.5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book. The photography really made my heart happy; there are many stunning pictures that capture these animals, plants, fungi and insects in their natural environments. This book is divided by four seasons, making it easier to navigate. I'm impressed by how packed this book is with interesting woodland biodiversity information. I learned a lot and got introduced to several new animals and plants. I'm glad the author included a chapter on conservation and how we can each help. I live in the US and found it neat to compare what the UK is doing on the conservation and climate change front.

Overall, this was a relaxing and enjoyable read. I think anyone with a love of wildlife or animals would enjoy this book. We've all been stuck indoors recently and as I'm returning to my "normal" life, it's been nice reconnecting with nature and this book has inspired several woodland creature doodles.

NetGalley, Andy Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Harmsworth takes readers on a tour of a patch of woodland through the seasons, introducing us to the plants and animals that live there. We learn how they adapt and survive over the course of a year, a fascinating look at a world hidden right in front of our eyes, but what makes this book so engaging is Harmsworth’s obvious love of the natural world and the enthusiasm with which she shares that love with her readers

NetGalley, Rosemary Smith

About Chloé Valerie Harmsworth

Chloé Valerie Harmsworth is a nature writer, artist, editor and photographer from Hertfordshire. With a background in educational publishing, she has written about the environment, conservation, wildlife and well-being for a wide range of publications. In her work she aims to show the beauty of the natural world and encourage people to protect it. She keeps a nature diary, with photos and illustrations, of her local green spaces. She shares her nature-inspired content on her website chloevalerienatureart.wordpress.com and on Instagram @chloevalerienatureart

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