Details for 'The Accidental Garden' by Richard Mabey

The Accidental Garden

by Richard Mabey
Musings on what we mean by gardens and what they could become, by the much-loved nature writer.
The Accidental Garden
by Richard Mabey
My review:

Like most of us, nature writer Richard Mabey saw his garden differently during lockdown.

He and his partner had had differing views in what they wanted from the two acres surrounding their cottage in Norfolk. She wanted to grow vegetables and roses. He wanted to let nature do its thing with grasses and trees unhindered. As he wandered its perimeter each day, he considered what is meant by a garden, and wrote a book.

We think of gardens as our personal dominions, Mabey says, where we can create whatever worlds we desire. But they are occupied by myriads of other organisms, weeds, grasses, bushes, trees, insects, birds and mammals all with their own lives to lead. As we seek to assert our dominance, and nature retaliates, the garden becomes a microcosm of what is happening in the larger world, he says.

There are philosophical ponderings here as well as recollections of beautiful plants and landscapes he's enjoyed, and the miraculous events that happen in and on the soil each day.

There's a lovely passage about the roses planted to remember the writer Edward Fitzgerald in a tiny churchyard in Suffolk, there's despair at how industrial farming in East Anglia has stripped the land of all goodness, and there's the wonder of how ants sow cowslip seeds in the parched grass.

It's a slim book packed full of gems to enjoy and ponder. And a beautiful cover!

Book publication date: 6th June 2024