It could either be seen as ironic or as a huge blessing, that during this darkest time for all of us, nature has given us one of the most beautiful springs I can remember. In my garden, there is cherry, pear and apple blossom all out at the same time, and the bluebells are joining in too. The sun has been out far more than is usual for this time of year, and rain so rare I have had to water what I have left in the veg patch!
We in this part of Oxfordshire live where access to the countryside is easy and there is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy it without compromising our social distancing. We should never forget how lucky we are compared to those in cities with very limited green space that has to be shared with many.
Here are 2 book recommendations that may change the way you look at nature for good:
You and the tree in your backyard come from a common ancestor. A billion and a half years ago, the two of you parted ways. But even now, after an immense journey in separate directions, that tree and you still share a quarter of your genes …
This is a novel about nine strangers, each summoned in different ways by the natural world, who are brought together in the last stand to save it from catastrophe. Emma Thompson said it was the best book she had read in 10 years, Robert Macfarlane said it was brilliantly written, and it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2019. The Madhatter Bookshop Bookgroup read it a few months ago and we all loved it – which as any of you out there in book groups know, is highly unusual.
The Burrells’ degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life – all by itself.
Isabella Tree tells the story of the ‘Knepp experiment’, a pioneering rewilding project in West Sussex. The Knepp Estate was a loss-making farm heavily in debt when Isabella and her husband took the controversial decision to rewild it using free-roaming grazing animals to create new habitats for wildlife. The transformation she relates is truly astounding and made me start to view the countryside I have known all my life in a new light.