An intriguing and timely exploration of the importance of Britain and Ireland's plant life.
Leif Bersweden has always been fascinated by wild plants. From a young age, his afternoons were spent hunting for and cataloguing the plants in his local area. But it is a landscape that is fast disappearing. Climate change, habitat destruction and declining pollinator populations mean that the future for plant life looks bleaker than ever before. Many of us are also unable to identify, or even notice, the plants that grow around us.
Now a botanist, Leif decides to go on a mission, to explore the plants that Britain and Ireland have to offer and to meet those who spend time searching for them. Over the course of a year, Leif goes on a journey around the UK and Ireland, highlighting the unique plants that grow there, their history and the threats that face them. His journey takes him from the Cornish coast to the pine forests of Scotland – even to the streets of London, proving that nature can be found in the most unexpected places. Along the way, Leif highlights the joy and positivity that can be found through understanding nature and why it is so desperately important to protect our wildflowers.
Leif Bersweden is a writer, botanist and science communicator with a lifelong interest in nature, focusing on wild plants from the age of seven. He grew up in rural Wiltshire where he taught himself to identify the local flora. Leif graduated from the University of Oxford in 2016, going on to complete a genetics PhD at Kew Gardens. His first book, The Orchid Hunter, was published in 2017.
"A heart-warming, fascination-inducing read from start to finish."
– Lucy Lapwing
"This is an extraordinary book. How many authors are able to make you feel childishly excited not just about the simple beauty of wild flowers but also about serious science and conservation? It is captivating in its joy for the natural world. Even if you don't care a jot for wild flowers, you should read it to find out how much you're missing out on – before it is too late."
– Isabel Hardman
"The Wildflowers of Britain have a new champion. Read Leif's lyrical and passionate tribute to them and be cured of your plant blindness."
– Lee Schofield
"This bicycle Odyssey of Britain and Ireland's wild flora is joyous, inspirational and beautifully observed. In Leif Bersweden our wild flowers have found both their rhapsodist and their champion."
– Peter Marren