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Good Reads  Botany  Plants & Gardens

Seed to Dust A Gardener's Story

Biography / Memoir Out of Print
By: Marc Hamer(Author), Jonathan Ashworth(Illustrator)
416 pages, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Seed to Dust
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  • Seed to Dust ISBN: 9781787302068 Hardback Jan 2021 Out of Print #253996
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About this book

Any garden belongs to everyone who sees it – it is like a book and everybody who visits it will find different things.

Marc Hamer has designed and nurtured 12 acres of garden for over two decades. It is rarely visited so he is the only person who fully knows its secrets; but it is not his own. His relationship with the garden's owner is both distant and curiously intimate, steeped in the mysterious connection which exists between two people who inhabit the same space in very different ways.

In this life-enhancing book Marc takes us month-by-month through his experiences both working in the garden and outside it, as the seasons' changes bring new plants and wildlife to the fore and lead him to reflect on his past and future. Through his peaceful and meditative prose we learn about gardening folklore and wisdom, the joys of manual labour, his path from solitary homelessness to family contentment and the cycle of growth and decay that runs through both the garden's life and our own.

Beautifully illustrated, Seed to Dust is a moving and restorative account of a life lived in harmony with nature.

You've seen gates like that at the side of the road, you've wondered what's behind them. They really are the entrance to the wonders you imagined.

Customer Reviews


Marc Hamer was born in the North of England and moved to Wales over thirty years ago. After spending a period homeless, then working on the railway, he returned to education and studied fine art in Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent. He has worked in art galleries, marketing, graphic design and taught creative writing in a prison before becoming a gardener. His first book, A Life in Nature; or How to Catch a Mole, was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize.

Biography / Memoir Out of Print
By: Marc Hamer(Author), Jonathan Ashworth(Illustrator)
416 pages, b/w illustrations
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Media reviews

"A wholly original, semi-autobiographical book on how to live, how to be calm and content with only a little, in a quietly humming garden"
Daily Mail

"Written as a monthly journal, this is more memoir and philosophical meditation than gardener's manual [...] Hamer uses the material all around – robins and crows, beeches and cherry trees, jasmine, daffodils and soil – as the springboard for reflections on how to live a small-scale, spiritually aware life. [...] making the case for seeing our place within nature, and relishing our contact with it."

"Marc Hamer's gardening memoir offers an insight into what it is like to tend somebody else's plot, and how an unusual relationship blossomed [...] Seed to Dust is a bodily book. Hamer lets us in; we learn what his tools feel like in hands hardened by decades of manual labour [...] But it is also an unlikely love story: Hamer is happily married to Peggy, who we hear about, too, but his affection for Miss Cashmere, his elderly employer, is clear – and infectious."

"Through his words, we connect with the ultimate text, the landscape itself. Seed to Dust is an invitation to read this world as Mr. Hamer does – with a close eye to what changes, and what does not."
Washington Post

"[A] life-enhancing book"
Eastern Daily Press

"From a hardscrabble childhood and vagrancy to the life-enhancing rewards of nurturing both 12 acres and an unusual friendship [...] an almanac of meditations or parables or thoughts-for-the-day, got from dandelions and roses, lawnmowers and secateurs, dead-heading and mulching [...] Most Hamer meditations take similar forms, starting down to earth, if not actually in it, and ending taking off for the skies one way or another. His prose mimics this, beginning earthy and becoming airy."
– Tim Dee, Guardian

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