Ed Talks / Lectures

The A-Z of the Amazing Ash Tree – From Alzheimer’s to Zeus.

This talk follows the spread of the ash tree across the Northern Hemisphere over the last 44 million years and then highlights how important it became in the development of Indo-European cultures such as the Greeks and Norse.  The talk looks at not only the mythologically important the ash tree was a wide range of people across the northern hemisphere but also to the development of transport, warfare, medicine, sport and agriculture. For example, the wheels of Tutankhamun’s chariot had ash wood spokes, the Viking spears and the best baseball bats were made from ash while the medical properties of the ash sap and bark were recognised by Pliny the Elder, in classic Chinese Medicine and is now the focus of the latest research into Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Curious Plant Stories from Around the World

Based on my travels and work with Kew gardens Oxford Botanic Gardens and The Eden Project this talk takes a slightly sideways look at some of the more unusual uses made from both wild and cultivated pants.  This includes succulents collected in the Chihuahua Desert used in everything from lipstick to car polish and cork used by the Romans and NASA to the multimillion-dollar importance of an Amazonian bee, planting trees for fish and the world’s largest food fight.

Ancient Trees of The National Trust

Based on a book of the same name I look at the fantastic collection of ancient trees located on National Trust sites all over England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  This includes the 2000-year-old yew tree under which the Magna Carta was sealed, dozens of ancient sweet chestnut trees, planted in formation, from a barrel of nuts salvaged from a scuppered Spanish Armada war ship and an ancient deer park oak that survived not only the plague, and mini-ice age but also ‘Dig for Victory’ in WW11.

On The Trail of the Buddha Tree.

This talk documents a journey I undertook following the route across India and Sri Lanka undertaken by a princess called Sangamita 2,300 years ago when she took a cutting from the fig tree under which Buddha had gained enlightenment as a gift the the King of Sri Lanka.  I retraced her route from Bodgaya, near Patna in north central India, along the Ganges River to the vast delta near Kolkata and then down the length of Bengal coast before continuing the journey from the northern most coast of Sri Lank to the place in the mountains where the tree is still alive.  I take time to visit tribal schools, venerated figs trees and areas affected by the Boxing Day Tsunami, Climate change and war.

A Global look at Trees that live for a thousand years

Based on the ground-breaking book ‘Ancient Trees – Trees That Live For a Thousand Years’ the talk highlights some of the world’s oldest and most remarkable trees and the stories associated with them.  The journey took me around the world where in one moment I am standing next to a tree in California that was alive before the first stone of the great Egyptian pyramid had been laid and in the next I am gazing up at a towering Kauri tree in New Zealand, sacred to the Māori’s.  In the course of researching and writing the book I tracked down thousand-year-old trees in the Amazon rainforest, on the slopes of Mount Etna and in the temples of South Korea.

Photographing Trees

This talk is about how to develop techniques and ways of looking at trees that create fantastic images of trees.  It covers helpful technical photographic information that can be used taking a photograph of a tree on any device whether it is a phone or a top-of-the-range SLR.   The talk also looks at non-technical aspects of photography such as composition, the use of different types of natural light and the importance of foreground and background to an image.

List of some of the locations and organisations where Edward Parker has spoken

Hay on Wye Literary Festival, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Millennium Seed Bank and The Jodrell Laboratory), Oxford University Botanic Gardens (Said Business School and Magdalen College), National Trust, WWF, Woodland Trust, European Commission (for WWF-International), Glasgow Botanic Gardens, RHS Wisley and Harlow Carr, Ancient Tree Forum, Chelsea Physic Gardens, U3A and London South Bank. Numerous schools and numerous garden and photographic clubs.