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In the summer after leaving school, a young botanist sets out to fulfil a childhood dream – to find every species of orchid native to the British Isles… He has just a few months to complete his quest – no one has ever done it before – and it will require ingenuity, stamina and a large dose of luck.
Like Two Owls at Eton and My Family and Other Animals, this is a charming, witty account of a precocious adolescent's obsession with the natural world.
As he battles the vagaries of the British climate in his clapped-out van, feverishly chasing each emerging bloom, Leif Bersweden takes the reader on a remarkable botanical journey. This study of the 52 native species is a fantastic gateway into the compendious world of orchids – one that will open your eyes to the rare hidden delights to be found on hilltops and riverbanks, in woodland, marsh and field.
Leif Bersweden graduated with a degree in Biology from Oxford and is currently a PhD student at Kew Gardens. He has loved orchids longer than he can remember. He is also the co-author of Winter Trees: A Photographic Guide to Common Trees and Shrubs, published by the Field Studies Council in 2013.
"[...] Leif Bersweden has written a precocious young man ’s book. Only 18, he trod the orchid path as a gap-year project before going to Oxford. Obsessed with orchids since spotting a Bee Orchid at the age of seven, he set out in a clapped-out car to track them alldown, often to the despair of his parents [...]. Orchid Hunter’s subtitle, A Young Botanist’s Search for Happiness, gives you the general idea. It is a botanical road trip with the author and his experiences at its centre, and it is easy to sympathise with his passion for acquiring knowledge, his eagerness, his adolescent agonies, and the loneliness of the long-distance orchid-hunter longing for a mate to share the passion. [...]"
– Peter Marren, British Wildlife 29(4), April 2018
"A compelling tale that will awaken the plant hunter in all of us."
– Catherine FitzGerald
– Gardens Illustrated
"Vivid and entertaining."
– Daily Mail
"Sets the bar high for originality."