Carol Klein has got her green finger right on the gardening pulse. As well as being a presenter on BBC Gardeners’ World and the Sunday Mirror’s horticultural agony aunt, she’s a much-Amazon-starred author. Carol has written how-tos (grow veg, propagate plants, etc), confessional diaries (things do sometimes go wrong in Life in a Cottage Garden) and inspirational make-over guides (Carol Klein’s Favourite Plants) – all very zeitgeisty.
Now she taps into our growing enthusiasm for provenance and traceability – name that cow, find that ancestor, track the cotton in my t-shirt – with a book that makes often forgotten connections between 30 of her favourite British wild flowers and their “cultivated cousins”.
Carol’s aim – it’s more of calling, actually – is to make us understand better and care more about our landscape, and thus transform the way we garden. It’s how her own passion for plants began, collecting wildflowers as a child in Lancashire. She weaves together her experiences of each plant – always sensual and exuberant – with botany and history lessons, and her top of the pops for cultivation. For late spring into early summer she picks the very versatile spurge Euphorbia polychroma, the daisy cousin Erigeron karvinskianus, the tame purple cow parsley Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing, a muscly pretend field poppy Papaver orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’ and the grow-anywhere cranesbill Geranium psilostemon.
Who could resist, particularly with photographer Jonathan Buckley at her side taking lipsmacking plant portraits.
Indexes are a bit of a personal fetish and this one is pretty comprehensive. However a listing of plants by growing conditions would have made this inspirational book more practical and novice-friendly, and fit the message of growing with nature rather than against it.