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When Barney Bardsley’s husband was diagnosed with cancer he was thirty-six, and their daughter just one. The family was too young for sell-by dates – there was too much to live for. And so they did.

But when he finally died, Barney felt alone and exhausted. Their savings had all gone and now she must support their child single-handedly. She would just have to take life one day at a time. She took to tending her small, scruffy allotment. Fresh air, wildlife, exercise, nature’s cycles of growth and decay – she found solace in it all.

This is the diary of her year in the garden. It begins with January’s brisk walks, nourishing soups, and dreams of spring. In May comes a messy abundance of bluebells, tadpoles, and honeybees. In summer the sunflowers shout. And in autumn comes a harvest of blackberries, beans and squash.

The garden’s meditative atmosphere also provokes deeper musings. Barney recounts the myths and emotions associated with particular plants; she paints memories of childhood; she evokes the changes of mood as the seasons shift. Above all, she charts how her own life is slowly restored, under the garden’s healing influence.


'She writes by turns movingly and humorously, but always beautifully ... gloriously uplifting'
Sunday Telegraph
'Profoundly moving'
Daily Telegraph
'Tender but resolutely unsentimental ... a grittily wise testament to life'
Financial Times