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‘I have long believed that it would be possible to tell the story of my profession, my city and my passions from the pavement of one residential street. That is my intention in this book. Over the length of a suburban road and the course of a single year, I will set out everything I have learned in 15 years of obsessing over gardens. History will unfold, not chronologically, but in relation to this specific windowbox, or that particular bay tree. The people I have met, in person or on pages, will live again in stems and twigs; the ghosts of plants I have loved, killed and longed for will loom over every fence and wall.’ Ben Dark, Introduction to The Grove

Recent times have seen a renewed interest in the nature on our doorsteps, 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 lie cultivated plants, each with a unique tale to tell. In The Grove award-winning writer and head gardener Ben Dark explores twenty commonly found species including the rose, Wisteria, Box and the tulip that he observed on daily walks in a typical outer-London street in his neighbourhood and uncovers their remarkable secrets. Each chapter will focus on one plant and reveal the way it found its way into British gardens (and the human stories involved) and what that plant tells us about our national obsession with gardening and cultivating our own patch of nature. As Ben writes, In those small front gardens ‘are stories of ambition, envy, hope and failure.’

(P) Octopus Publishing Group 2022