Monkeys from all over


I have been absolutely bowled over by the amount of monkeys coming my way… but not had enough time to catalogue them. I was hoping for the catalogue to reach 500 by the end of the year, but the good news is that we’ll have reached 500 in the next few weeks. And I say ‘we’ because I am very conscious that this is a collective effort to hunt monkeys – OK, I do the cataloguing here at ‘Monkey Central’, but I wouldn’t have the reach that I have if it wasn’t without some very enthusiastic people out there keeping their eyes peeled. So thank you.

As the catalogue increases in size I’ve also been wondering how to keep tabs on it so it’s easily ‘sortable’. I’ve decided to feature each monkey puzzle tree individually with its catalogue number, along with the name of the agent who found it and a photograph. I’m putting these all on a Blogger template which allows for them to be sorted (thanks to Bridgette Ashton for inspiration). They’re not all in yet – but you can have a look at that here.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 09.22.59


I’m really pleased with this as it means that in the dynamic view if you sort by ‘Label’ you can see all the monkeys hunted by particular agents, or by postcode area. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll be updating with the whole catalogue in the next few weeks.

So I have a couple of monkey hunting reports to bring you. First of all a lovely email from Agent Simon in the Shropshire area who went on a monkey hunt and reported in with eight additions to the TF catalogue. They are all uploaded on the site – here – if you want to see them individually look at ‘TF’, but here are some highlights:

TF4 at Ironbridge.

TF4 at Ironbridge, viewed from the bridge – visible on the left.

I also particularly liked the next one, in Ketley. Agent Simon tells me it is the focal point of ‘Telford Millennium Village’ and has been adopted as their logo.

TF9, Ketley.

TF9, Ketley.

TF9 Telford logo

You can see the other TF monkeys in the pictorial catalogue. And Agent Simon didn’t stop there! He very kindly sent me photographs of a group of nine trees – which are on Hergest Ridge, near Kington in Herefordshire, so HR territory.

HR60 to HR68, Hergest Ridge.

HR60 to HR68, Hergest Ridge.

Agent Simon tells me that they are a well known local landmark but no-one seems to know why the trees were planted there. They are in the oval-shaped space where there was a racecourse. And – they actually appear on the cover of Mike Oldfield’s ‘Hergest Ridge’ album, but only on the 2010 reissue. Simon has even sent me an image of that as well:

Hergest Ridge, 2010 album cover.

Hergest Ridge, 2010 album cover. Monkeys circled in red (by Simon).

Excellent work Agent Simon! Thank you.

The final contribution from Agent Simon is another tree in Halesowen – where we’ve had several trees from Agent C (who has a phobia of monkey puzzles). The tree is B7, another on Bromsgrove Road (again it’s on the pictorial catalogue), and Simon has an interesting story to tell about this:

Back in the late 80s, the houseowner responded to the local authority’s refusal to grant him planning permission to put up a satellite dish on his house by fixing a 3′ wide white plastic circle with a smiley face to this monkey puzzle tree. It became the local equivalent of the Headington Shark for a while.

And for those of you who don’t know what the Headington Shark is (and I didn’t), it’s a sculpture on a residential house in Oxford, and here’s a photo. Credit to James Turnbull for this under Creative Commons. Thanks.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 18.08.43

So, back to the monkeys. As you would expect Agent Jeff has been regularly popping into my inbox and even has his daughter – in the RG area – on the lookout, so the RG catalogue is now up to five – and you can find those on the pictorial catalogue now.

Over in Leeds, my friend Gemma spotted  what looked like a small group of monkeys on the approach road to Wellington Road. On further googling, these look like there are actually 25 monkeys in total!

Leeds 25

We’re still waiting for confirmation from any Leeds contacts out there to check the numbers, but if it is 25 monkeys, then this will be the largest single hunting in one go. So good work Gemma, I think you have earned your Agent status now!

And other regular agents are Agent Dragonblaze and Agent Millwall MPT covering the SE area – all their finds are on the pictorial catalogue now. SE catalogue is up to 16.

There are some new international finds as well. My old friend Robin from Seattle has sent me two more Pacific Northwest monkeys – on the INT WA catalogue. And a new Twitter friend – Raymond – from Blarney in County Cork in Ireland turns out to be an enthusiastic grower of monkeys. Delighted to have you on board Agent Raymond! Here’s one of his own grown monkeys:

From Raymond in Blarney, Co. Cork.

From Raymond in Blarney, Co. Cork.

And finally, I’m delighted to be in possession of the following publication:


Yes, 103 monkey puzzle trees, you read that right. This book was self-published by Bridgette Ashton in 2012. There is no narrative, just a collection of images:


The images were collected over a two year period with the help of the public and Google Street View – so not unlike this blog and catalogue, but confined to Kent. The review of the first instalment of the book (45 Monkey Puzzle Trees of Kent) says that it reveals the monkey puzzle as ‘a peculiar staple of the southern English counties, a cherished symbol of half-timbered, mock-Tudor respectability, a little like George Orwell’s aspidistra was in the 1930s’. Well, it’s certainly got a special English eccentricity, but not at all confined to the south by any means!

Bridgette has very kindly agreed to let me feature ‘her’ trees and add them to the catalogue. Thank you Bridgette. And if you’d like to buy your own copy you can buy the book here. Bridgette also featured the monkeys she found as an archived project as ‘The Monkey Puzzle Tree Club’, and used a Blogger template to showcase them which was the inspiration for the pictorial catalogue of this Monkey Map – so thanks to Bridgette for that.

So the bottom line? Well, without the 103 Kent trees, the catalogue is now at 451 in the UK, and 459 with international contributions.

So thanks everyone – Agent Simon, Agent Jeff, Agent Gemma, Agent Dragonblaze, Agent Millwall MPT, and international Agent Robin and Agent Raymond in Ireland, and special thanks to Bridgette Ashton for so freely sharing her 103 Kent project.

As I have been preparing this post, I’ve been contacted with another scout in Inverness and a number of trees there, and also a very special collection of monkeys from Yorkshire which were collected many years ago and are being sent up from London by another keen scout. I’m looking forward to sharing them all with you.

Keep your eyes peeled! And do have a look at the new pictorial catalogue – here.



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