Monkey Business: illustrated zine highlights the threat to endangered trees

A freelance illustrator based in Buckinghamshire, Kimberley Laura Walker has long been fascinated by monkey puzzle trees. And she's harnessed this passion to produce a special zine, Cemetery Junction, that celebrates this plucky yet endangered tree.

She explains how her interest first began. "When I was about eight, I remember sitting in the car as we drove past a cemetery," she says. It was filled with an impressive avenue of towering Araucaria Araucana, also known as monkey puzzle trees. Later in life, I became mesmerised by how they still somehow stand strong and evolve, despite having lived through multiple extinctions."

When she was contemplating moving to Bournemouth for university, she discovered the cemetery that had initially piqued her interest. "And the town was actually full of them, but I couldn't help but wonder how many had been lost to certain events.

"It was only during the lockdown in 2020 that I had a chance to walk and cycle down many streets and note all of the remaining trees down," she continues. "I researched their history and talked to residents about their memories of them: from who planted them, to the effect natural disaster and urbanisation had on them."

Kimberley later created Cemetery Junction as an ode to both the town and an endangered tree that thrives in peculiar places. "This publication documents the history of the monkey puzzle trees dotted around Bournemouth that were planted circa 1900," she explains. "The tree is dying out in its native habitat in South America and was declared endangered in 2013. I want to share tiny fractions of its story and how an endangered tree came to thrive in unexpected places. This publication explores its time in Bournemouth and why it should be protected at all costs."