An insightful assessment of the nation's flora, following Mike Dilger's quest to find 1,000 plant species over the course of a year.
For most of 2020, Mike Dilger's normal day job of travelling to the four corners of the British Isles to film wildlife for The One Show all but disappeared, limiting his daily wildlife fixes to those short walks to and from home with his son and dog. With his wings clipped, he couldn't shake the feeling he was missing out and even felt he was suffering from some form of 'nature deficit disorder'. But as spring slowly turned to summer, the simple pleasure of getting to know the wild plants on his own local patch turned his daily exercise from being somewhat tedious to utterly enthralling.
Realising how little he knew about the wild plants just beyond his doorstep became the catalyst for reigniting a long-buried botanical passion.
With the arrival of 2021 and a third lockdown, Mike decides to pack an eye lens and plant book alongside his trusty binoculars to see as many of our wild plants as possible, with 1,000 species the steep target. With the 'plant race' running for an entire calendar year, he joins up with other hardcore botanists, pointing him towards good sites with impressive plant lists and even precise coordinates for twitching for a small, select range of marquee species. During the course of the year, he meets up with the resilient reserve wardens and courageous conservationists tasked with protecting some of the nation's richest botanical sites and experiences first-hand the many difficulties associated with saving our rarest and most charismatic plants.
Chapter 1. New Year Plant Hunt
Chapter 2. Lockdown Botany
Chapter 3. The Trouble with Coltsfoot
Chapter 4. The Trouble with Covid
Chapter 5. Just Beyond My Doorstep
Chapter 6. Chilterns-bound
Chapter 7. Plate-spinning on the Lizard
Chapter 8. In Revered Company
Chapter 9. A Date with Destiny
Chapter 10. Re-forming the Band
Chapter 11. Back to Uni
Chapter 12. Home from Home
Chapter 13. A Calcareous Road Trip
Chapter 14. Help in Heaven
Chapter 15. We're Going on a Plant Hunt
Chapter 16. Wading into Wetland Plants
Chapter 17. Going for Gold
Mike Dilger is one of wildlife TV's best-known presenters, in his role as resident wildlife reporter on BBC One's primetime current affairs show, The One Show, since 2007. As well as being an experienced TV presenter, Mike has travelled widely in South America and Southeast Asia on ecological expeditions, sometimes in front of the camera, sometimes behind.
"[...] The style throughout is upbeat, cheery and chatty, and paying proper respect to the stars of the show, the plants. Each species, and its setting, are described nicely, with digressions into a little light botany [...] Mike Dilger is an amiable and enthusiastic companion, describing the pleasures and pitfalls of flower-finding with a smile, a presenter who loves his subject and longs to tell you all about it. Our wild flowers need all the friends they can get, and I hope this book will bring them to the kind of wider audience that, it seems, only media celebs can deliver."
– Peter Marren, British Wildlife 34(6), May 2023
"Following Mike on his quest to unearth green gems across the length and breadth of Britain is an absolute joy. The elation, the despair, the dangers, the accomplishments are all laid bare for everyone to enjoy. A cracking read."
– Iolo Williams, naturalist and wildlife TV presenter
"What an incredible achievement! I'll never go out for a walk again without looking and searching for wild plants."
– Alison Steadman, actor
"An inspirational odyssey. Personal, inspiring and suffused in Green."
– Nick Baker, naturalist and wildlife TV presenter
"Mike's knowledge, enthusiasm and love of the natural world drive this compelling race against time, to see a thousand different plants in a single year."
– Stephen Moss, naturalist and author