Hedge enthusiast Hugh Barker journeyed across Britain to explore its remarkable variety of gardens and hedgerows. He discovered how hedges are among our most ancient monuments, met hedge laying champions and topiary fanatics, and saw the lengths to which some people will go just to annoy the neighbours. Hugh explains how the garden hedge became associated with paradise, why the British army planted a barrier hedge hundreds of miles long in India, and how the notorious enclosures during the Industrial Revolution turned the country upside-down. Informative, revealing and anecdotal, it's a sweeping history of Britain as you've never seen it before.
Hugh Barker has been a bookseller, musician, fruit picker, barman, publisher and writer, amongst other things. He currently lives in North London with his wife, daughter and several cats, surrounded by a small hedge that he can call his own.
"This delightful, fact-packed book is so compelling it had me craving a pair of telescopic topiary loppers even though I don't own a hedge [...] Let's hear it for hedges!"
– Daily Mail
"[A] quirky, readable book [...] On many of its pages Hedge Britannia illuminates a small field of human endeavour that few of us will have ever considered"
– Sunday Times
"Whether your preference is for hornbeam, viburnum or plain old privet, you'll find much to marvel over here. Shear delight"
"One fruit in an orchard of idiosyncratic writing"
– Boyd Tonkin, Independent
"As Hugh Barker observes in his engaging saunter around the subject of hedges and our relationship with them, we are caught up in a struggle with nature, which constantly seeks to return the garden to a state of chaos [...] Deploying a nice, easy style, he has woven a good deal of interesting and important information into a pleasantly discursive narrative that is much enhanced by the wealth of hedge pictures"
– Literary Review
"Genuinely eccentric but lively and informative, Baker moves through the past and present of the great British hedge and comes out looking spruce. He trims his material – from the history of land enclosures to modern suburban lifestyles – into a satisfying shape that even garden-haters can admire"
"This book offers a history of the nation seen in the context of the story of the humble hedge. Well written, informative"
– English Garden