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The Grove : A Nature Odyssey in 19 1/2 Front Gardens

Ben Dark
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Octopus Publishing Group (Mitchell Beazley)
Published: April 7, 2022
ISBN: 9781784727383
336 pages, Woodcut-style illustrations of each featured plant
Country of publication: United Kingdom

£16.99

Any walk is an odyssey when we connect with the plants around us. Each tree or flower tells a tale. Mundane ‘suburban’ shrubs speak of war and poetry, of money, fashion, love and failure. Every species in this book was seen from one pavement over twelve months and there is little here that could not be found on any road in any town, but they reveal stories of such weirdness, drama, passion and humour that, once discovered, familiar neighbourhoods will be changed forever.

There is a renewed interest in the nature on our doorsteps, as can be seen in the work of amateur botanists identifying wildflowers and chalking the names on the pavements.

But beyond the garden wall lies a wealth of cultivated plants, each with a unique tale to tell. In The Grove, award-winning writer and head gardener Ben Dark reveals the remarkable secrets of twenty commonly found species – including the rose, wisteria, buddleja, box and the tulip – encountered in the front gardens of one London street over the course of year.

As Ben writes, in those small front gardens ‘are stories of ambition, envy, hope and failure’ and The Grove is about so much more than a single street, or indeed the plants found in its 19 ½ front gardens. It’s a beguiling blend of horticultural history and personal narrative and a lyrical exploration of why gardens and gardening matter.

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