Nothing SpecialThe Garden Of Jane Delawney
The Garden Of Jane DelawneyThe Garden Of Jane Delawney
She Moved Thro' The FairThe Garden Of Jane Delawney
EpitaphThe Garden Of Jane Delawney
Snail's LamentThe Garden Of Jane Delawney
MurdochOn The Shore
Sally Free And EasyOn The Shore
FoolOn The Shore
GeordieOn The Shore
While The Iron Is HotOn The Shore

Trees photo 1

Trees (clockwise from top left): Barry Clarke (lead guitar, dulcimer), Stephen Unwin Brown (drums), Tobias ‘Bias’ Boshell (bass, piano, vocals), Celia Humphris (vocals), David Costa (acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin) – this promo photo © Hipgnosis 1970 featured over 50 years later on the cover of the anniversary edition 4xLP/4xCD Box Set – scroll down for further info


Trees playlist


Contributor: Merric Davidson

My first encounter with Trees – as would have been the case with many others I’m sure – was through listening to a track called The Garden Of Jane Delawney on the 1970 double album sampler Fill Your Head With Rock, the third such release from CBS Records.


Trees photo 2

Trees – from the inner sleeve of ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’


Although I bought this 23-track sampler LP – and it is a fantastic album – sadly I couldn’t afford to invest in Trees debut album, The Garden Of Jane Delawney, at the time and so my full-immersion baptism to it and its successor, On The Shore, came some twenty plus years later in the CD era.

It was the singer’s haunting delivery of The Garden Of Jane Delawney that made it compulsory to lift the needle and play it again, and again. What we would have given for streaming in the seventies!

Trees was a five-piece band consisting of four intuitive musicians and a lead singer with an ethereal, mystical voice. This quote from Karl Dallas in Melody Maker at the time of the LP’s release is spot on: “The importance of Trees is that, in addition to their undoubted musical excellence, their inspiration goes back independently to the folk and rock scenes of a few years ago, indicating that the long-awaited, long-needed reconciliation between the folk and pop movements is actually beginning to happen.”

My selection of 10 Trees tracks from just the two albums, both recorded in 1970 – there were to be no more – includes a couple of their extended psych folk, prog rock workouts of traditional songs but I’ve mainly gone for original compositions from band member Bias Boshell.


‘The Garden Of Jane Delawney’ was produced by David Howells, a CBS mainstay, and Tony Cox who was a key player in the burgeoning UK folk rock scene, and it is the debut album from Trees released in April 1970.


Nothing Special is maybe the rockiest of all their songs with virtuoso electric guitar opening proceedings and a vocal which is pure Pentangle. It is an unlikely marriage but it’s infectious and jolly. This was their first (and only) single released in July 1970.


“I wrote The Garden Of Jane Delawney at Bedales in about 1965. I cannot explain anything about it. I don’t know who Jane Delawney is, what it means, or what influenced me in writing it. It just appeared as if from nowhere.” (Bias Boshell quoted in Stewart Lee’s sleevenotes for the 2008 reissue of ‘On The Shore’)


She Moved Thro’ The Fair is the first of the traditional folk songs I’m selecting, with its long and thoughtful instrumental section greatly adding to the ghostly atmosphere … “It will not be long love till our wedding day”. An all-round tour de force which gives new meaning to this familiar folk classic.


A flurry of acoustic guitar and a deftly layered and assured vocal make Epitaph a thing of fragile beauty: Find me no reason, teach me no word / Leaves settle slowly, when the autumn comes / When god was lonely, song was sung / A tune to echo, like a dying sun


I like to think that Snail’s Lament (which closes TGOJD) is Boshell’s Meet On The Ledge. It sure sounds a bit Richard Thompson and it’s definitely enigmatic and it’s the last track! Have a listen, see what you think.

Live another life on me
When you find it hard to cope
Take my eyes if you can’t see
Give them back when you find hope

And if I shine brighter than I should
Take a little light from me
Have anything that might do you good
Pass on anything that you don’t need

And everybody’s gonna build their house
On me



‘On The Shore’ was produced by Tony Cox again, recorded in October 1970 and released in January 1971 on CBS. The sleeve artwork is by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis and features Tony Meehan’s daughter, Katherine. Both albums were engineered by Vic Gamm who had previously worked with Jethro Tull, Dr. Strangely Strange, Magna Carta, Shelagh McDonald, The Deviants…


For me, Murdoch is the standout track on On The Shore. Dramatic. Epic. Instantly engaging. Quoting from Stewart Lee’s sleevenotes again: “Bias describes Murdoch, written at his mother’s house in Arthog, North Wales, in the shadow of Cader Idris, as ‘the only song that I’ve ever remembered that I heard in a dream. I still find it somewhat disturbing. However, anyone who has gazed up at Cader Idris in a bleak Welsh twilight will know the feeling.’ Murdoch’s lyrical complexity marks it out as contemporary, but with its black beaked crows and mountain shrouds, it also exemplifies the ‘pagan’ element that David Costa felt defined Martin Carthy’s take on English folk. Bias explains; ‘I had, at that time, an almost religious conviction that with lyrics, it didn’t so much matter what you said as that it should sound good, it should ‘sing right’. I’ve written a few songs in my time, most only known to me, where the lyrics make perfect sense but they do not ‘sing’ well!’ Celia and her future husband, the Radio 1 DJ Pete Drummond, ended up buying the house where Murdoch was composed, the same house where many of the tracks were learned or rehearsed for stage or studio.”


Trees’ version of Cyril Tawney’s classic folk song Sally Free And Easy checks in at ten minutes plus. Celia Humphris is quoted in the CD liner notes for TGOJD as follows, “Sally Free And Easy was brilliant. It happened after an all-night recording session. The guys were fiddling with a tune they’d always liked, and Bias moved to the piano. It was around five in the morning and we felt great afterwards. It’s my personal favorite. That was indeed a turning point, I feel, but one that we seemed unable to build upon at that time.”


Oswald the Smith has not returned, to see which way the world has turned …

Come to think of it, Fool could be the standout track on On The Shore! Trees are entering Airplane territory here while holding on to the coattails of the tradition. It’s the closest track to acid folk on here …

“The term folk-rock hadn’t been around much when we began, maybe first with reference to some of the American electric-acoustic bands, but because of the path we found ourselves taking, we suffered with unfair comparison to others and we got lumbered with the genre. In truth our influences were predominantly more aligned with the bands of the American West Coast – Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, It’s A Beautiful Day, Buffalo Springfield, and these were who we looked towards for the edge we wanted to give our material.” David Costa


I was tempted by their short but sweet version of Soldiers Three (its history is here), the opening track on On The Shore, but could look no further than Geordie for my second pick of Trees songs from the tradition (its history is here).


The last selection is While The Iron Is Hot, a contemporary folk song written by Tobias Boshell about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The superb harmonies are enhanced by a strikingly unexpected strings arrangement with dulcimer. The song is a triumph. Boshell remarked: “I knew something about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and then read about a strike in the 19th century where ‘they broke the shears at Foster’s Mill’. The phrase had a rhythm to it that became a tune in my head. And we used to go down to Cecil Sharp House, the headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, and trawl through stuff and listen to so much modal music that it became the norm.”

And that’s it. Over the years, these two Trees records have become classics of the folk rock era and, the band that lasted just a few years, now has a devoted following right across the world. Sadly, Celia and Unwin are no longer with us. David is a notable graphic designer, Barry ran a jewellery business, Bias continued doing music in several successful bands.

The secondhand prices of both Trees LPs are eye-wateringly high. The second album, with its darker themes, is particularly in demand in the weird folk arena. But it doesn’t have The Garden Of Jane Delawney on it so you’ll need both!



Trees poster 3

“In common with all bands we had some truly dire gigs and some utterly sublime ones, where we couldn’t put a foot wrong and where the audience were clearly on our side. One of the worst events was the infamous Festival de Musique Evolution at Le Bourget airport in 1970 (see above) where we were thrown into the lion’s den with Ginger Baker’s Airforce and Pink Floyd and a promoter with no available means of paying for anything. We survived to play with many great bands, supporting the likes of Family, High Tide, Yes, Curved Air, Matthews Southern Comfort, Peter Green, Fotheringay – and delivered many more successful shows, touring with Fleetwood Mac around Scotland, working memorable gigs around the university circuit in the UK, playing Liverpool Stadium with Free, Plumpton Festival with Genesis, London’s iconic Roundhouse and Queen Elizabeth Hall.” David Costa (from his interview with It’s Psychedelic Baby – see link below)


Trees poster 1


Trees poster 4


Trees poster 2



Trees 50th Anniversary Edition Box Set

On The Shore is perhaps the most under-appreciated folk-rock masterpiece of its era … this is an essential companion for a fantastic band.” Record Collector

“This gorgeous-sounding reissue completes the band’s story, while the music’s arcane power remains intact.” Mojo

“Trees were all instinct; they had a cursory flick through the Child ballads, turned everything up to 11 and exploded into the moment. This is music that makes sense in large, languid doses. Lie back. Think of England. Enjoy.” Uncut

“Trees existed for less than three years, yet the two albums they produced are now regarded as pinnacles of psychedelic folk rock. Sublime musical creations.” Shindig



The traditional songs that Trees recorded and that are omitted from this ten are The Great Silkie, Lady Margaret (a not-so-distant relation to Fairport’s Matty Groves), Glasgerion (aka Jack Orion), Soldiers Three (that one was a close call, it’s a great version), Streets Of Derry, and Polly On The Shore (see above video)


This is a fabulous track that appeared as a bonus on the re-release of ‘TGOJD’. Black Widow was a number they played in the seventies and this version was recorded in 2008 for the reissue.


This is Tom Of Bedlam from the 1973 Trees line up where Celia and Barry are the only two original members. It’s included on the album ‘Trees Live’ released in Italy in 1989 on the Habla label


Two versions of TGOJD




Celia Humphris (1950–2021)


Trees band website

Trees (Wikipedia)

Trees at Fire Records

Bias Boshell (Wikipedia)

David Costa (Wikipedia)

Pitchfork reviews Trees fifty years on
“Trees were not scholarly devotees of the folk tradition but enthusiastic recent converts who brazenly experimented with traditional forms and never missed the opportunity to jam”

David Costa interview in It’s Psychedelic Baby (2020)

Trees (50th Anniversary Edition) 4xLP Box Set

Trees biography (AllMusic)


Some time after Trees, Celia Ford Drummond (Celia Humphris) was an automated announcer on the British railway network. She was widely used on the Northern and Chiltern Railway network. Up until 2019, her voice was used at Southern and South Western Railway stations and several years ago at First Great Western stations. In addition to those National Rail stations such as Bristol Temple Meads, Clapham Junction and London Waterloo, she also did announcements on London Underground trains on the Northern and Jubilee lines. The English and French voices of Eurostar train announcements are also Celia’s … (READ ON here)


The poet’s voice lingers on
His words hang in the air
The ground you walk upon
Might as well not be there
Might as well not be there

I’ll take you through my dreams
Out into the darkest morning
Past the blood-filled streams
Into the garden of Jane Delawney
Into the garden now

Though the rose is fair
Don’t pluck it as you pass
For a fire will consume your hair
And your eyes will turn to glass
Your eyes will turn to glass

In the willow’s shade
Don’t lie to hear it weep
For its tears of gold and jade
Will drown you as you sleep
Will drown you now

Jane Delawney had her dreams
That she never did discover
For the flow that feeds the stream
Is the life blood of her lover
Is the life blood of her lover

And the purifying beam
Of the sun will shine here never
While the spirit of her dream
In the garden lives forever
Lives forever now


Merric Davidson is a retired publisher who started this site nine years ago. He tweets toppermost @AgeingRaver.

TopperPost #1,037


  1. Rob Morgan
    Sep 5, 2022

    I came to Trees via a track on a 4CD compilation called “Pure Psychedelic Rock”. In a way it’s a more modern equivalent of “Fill your head with rock”, it’s a CBS fest – Santana, Al Kooper etc. And somewhere in the middle of the third disc was “Road”, an entrancing folk rock gem with an almost motorik speed. Like Fairport Convention jamming with Neu! So I bought the CDs and adored them. Also noticed that Gnarls Barkley had sampled a loop from “Geordie” on one of their tracks. Trees don’t seem to get the love they deserve even now. Brilliant article, Merric. Spread the love for Trees!

  2. Carl Parker
    Sep 22, 2022

    I first came across Trees on another sampler. It was called In Good Company. It was all CBS artists (others included Santana, The Byrds, Chicago, Laura Nyro), but they were licenced to Boots The Chemist and appeared on the 17 label (it being Boots’ teen cosmetic range, I believe).
    The track was Nothing Special from TGOJD. I really liked it, but that was my sole exposure to Trees until around 15 years ago when expanded editions of TGOJD and On The Shore were released. I have copies of both, which are both splendid albums.
    One extra note regarding the On The Shore cover. The cover photo was taken in Golders Hill Park, in north west London.
    A lovely piece, Merric.

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