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‘I wrote The Grove to celebrate the extraordinary background to everyday life and to show that any walk is an odyssey when we connect with the plants around us. Each tree or flower tells a tale. Some are deeply personal, others older than human time. 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 recount stories of such weirdness, drama, passion and humour that, once discovered, familiar neighbourhoods will be changed forever.’ Ben Dark

Recent times have seen a renewed interest in urban nature, as can be seen in the work of amateur botanists, old and young, identifying wildflowers and chalking their names on 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 -observed in the front gardens of a typical London street on daily walks over the course of a year. We discover how that plant found its way into our gardens, the cast of characters who played their part in its story – from eccentric plant hunters to gardening grand dames – and what each one tells us about our obsession with gardening and the urge to cultivate our own patch of nature. As Ben writes, In those small front gardens ‘are stories of ambition, envy, hope and failure.’