4 out of 5 stars
Leif Bersweden has been fascinated by wild plants for as long as he can remember. As a child, he would spend his afternoons collecting the various leaves and flowers that he found. Being given a digital camera meant that he could collect a digital record and he would then fill notebooks with his findings.
It was this fascination that led to a degree in biology and now a PhD from Kew on orchids. He has never fallen out of love with our green friends and have already been to various parts of the country with the intention of finding orchids he wanted to see for himself other plants in their location. He brogan this trip though in London with his mum looking for plants that were flowering on the 1st of January 2021.
It is the start of a journey that will take him from Ireland discovering mosses to Shetland seeking the mouse ear. He travels back to his original home in Wiltshire walking the paths of his childhood to the Fens where he was searching for lilies and cycles the south downs at peak bluebell time. The trips to see these plants and many many others took place over the year, the various travel restrictions and lockdowns meant that rather than it being some sort of grand plant tour, it was a series of shorter journeys written up as essays.
I really liked this, not only is he really knowledgeable, but what comes across is his enthusiasm. It is infectious to reading this makes me want to go and discover what is out in my local patch! He is utterly besotted by plants and this is evident in his prose and the pictures included in his book of him, especially when he gets to hold a bladderwort.
One of the main things that he is trying to show in this book is that some of the plants that he goes to see are extremely threatened by climate change and human actions. I liked that sometimes he is in a spot to see a very rare and specific plant and more importantly sometimes he is there just because being in the natural world is equally important. It is a good follow-up to his first book, The Orchid Hunter and can recommend reading it. Even better each of the plants that he mentions in the book can be seen on this website: