A former park ranger has published her first ever book that celebrates the history of Leavesden Country Park and its monkey puzzle trees.

Jess Hodges' children's book The Very Puzzled Monkey Puzzle Tree tells the story of Martha, the titular monkey puzzle tree.

Jess said: "When I started at the park, the tree officer told me about the monkey puzzle trees, and that the two taller trees are likely to be male – and the smaller one female. I found that a really interesting concept.

"The smaller tree was obviously much younger than the two taller trees. In my head I related that to a child. I thought about some of the questions I had about these trees as well as what a child might ponder and put them into a story."

The Monkey Puzzle Trees are actually Chilean Pines, and privide the inspiration for the Leavesden Country Park logo. The Monkey Puzzle trees stand within the Edwardian garden in the south side of the park.

The first-time author, who now works for Three Rivers District Council as a community biodiversity officer, initially started writing the book in 2019 before returning to it last year.

Jess continued: "The story follows Martha’s questions, she is very puzzled. She stands in the park every day and people make comments about her – about her being spikey and how she looks different to the other monkey puzzle trees.

"The park ranger is taking a group of children around and tells the story of the monkey puzzle trees and answers these questions for Martha.

"As well as telling people about these fantastic prehistoric trees, I wanted to highlight the natural history of the site."

Jess' book, which has been illustrated by Hertfordshire artist Leanne Coelho, has been published by Three Rivers District Council as part of the Leavesden Country Park National Lottery Heritage project.

Copies of the book have been sent to schools and libraries across Three Rivers and can be picked up by the public for free at libraries.

An e-edition can be read online here.