Jesse Vernon Trail is a plant lover.
He loves plants so much that when visiting The Morning Star for an interview, he brought in seeds for the staff.
A year ago, Trail turned his love of plants into his first full-length nonfiction book.
Quiver Trees, Phantom Orchids and Rock Splitters: The Remarkable Survival Strategies of Plants’ theme revolves around ecology and conservation.
The soft-spoken author remembers the looks he received from his students while he was on his hands and knees, examining plants with a magnifying glass.
“They thought I would look a little weird… but (by) doing that you get to see the intricate forms of the plants,” he said.
He analyzes plants right down to their core.
“I just find so many plants are so fascinating, even in their structure,” he said.
Familiar with the writing process, Trail has articles published in The Ecologist, Garden Making, Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Country Life and more.
“I’m a very prolific magazine writer,” he said, but his latest 300-page nonfiction is a new venture which took 20 years to create.
As a photographer, Trail contributed some of his own photography to the book, such as the picture of an orchid species on page 18.
“The orchid has the tiniest seeds known to man,” he said, adding that he is fascinated by colour and light, and the science behind it.
Thanks to Trail’s insistence to his publisher, the book is chalk-full of more than 130 coloured photographs.
“I liked contacting all the photographers. I selected all the photographs that are in (the book),” the 66-year-old Vernon resident said.
The process for building the nonfiction took “tons of notes… even reference sources from the 1890s.”
Trail gathered research from the local library, the internet and from old sources in libraries in other provinces.
“I’m a researcher. If I see something that’s fascinating, I would type it or write it down.”
Staying organized was another key aspect to writing the book, and Trail organized his findings alphabetically, by Latin name.
Trail has been living in Vernon for more than 20 years with his wife Cheryl. He is originally from Ontario, and moved to the Lower Mainland for a few years before settling in the North Okanagan.
Before retirement, he taught night classes and worked at nurseries in the area, and he still teaches online classes at Okanagan College.
Trail’s love of plants grew with age, as he attended the University of Guelph in Ontario and graduated out of the horticulture program.
“That was many moons ago,” he laughed.
He doesn’t have a favourite plant, and it was difficult deciding which plants made the cut for the book.
“I like pretty well all plants, even some of the ugly ones.”
An avid gardener and environmentalist, Trail noticed in his research the looming issue of climate change.
“There seems to be a trend definitely, I hate to say it but a lot of it has been caused by our interference.”
The last chapter has sources of information on conservation.
If he had to pick a favourite part of the world, he would choose Australia for its eucalyptus trees among other interesting plants the environment has to offer.
To find copies of Trail’s book visit Bookland in downtown Vernon or see ecwpress.com/products/quiver-trees.