The Uses and Abuses of Plants
Triggered by visits to the Eden Project, Britain's foremost countryside writer is on top form as he discusses specific plants, plant hunters, what we mean by Paradise, and other botanical and ecological ideas.
In this remarkable journal of visits to Eden, Mabey transports his reader from Cornwall to the Mediterranean to the Tropics, from Old World to New, from present to personal memory, to new perspectives on our collective artistic and emotional past. Sensuous and evocative, exquisitely written, his new book challenges the reader to look differently at the world, and our place in the landscape. At the same time, Mabey is controversial in his views about what we mean by buzz words like 'renewable', or 'sustainable', and he is highly provocative in his final response to the Eden Project itself.
“Fluid and highly readable, Fencing Paradise is environmentally aware, but never preachy. Mabey dips into a broad pool of knowledge...to offer a panoramic depiction of our attempts to tame nature, and a cautionary vision of the possible consequences.”
The Daily Telegraph
“Mabey's lucid and very erudite "pot-pourri of responses, recollections and free associations" was sparked off by three seasons' worth of visits to the Eden Project. The ambitious scale of that massive hothouse umbrella is reflected in the breadth of his contemplation.”
Independent on Sunday
“A remarkable, beautifully written, exquisite book on botanical and ecological ideas, inspired by visits to the Eden Project. Subtitled "The Uses and Abuses of Plants", it's a gem.”
“A terrific book...it's an engaging compendium of plant chat and history.”
Catherine Shoard, The Evening Standard
“The author structures his book with a journey through the biotopia of the Eden Project in Cornwall, from where he darts off in history and geography to offer sparkling mini-essays on specific herbs and plants and more general matters botanical and ecological.”
Steven Poole, Guardian
“Even if you're not especially interested in the Eden Project, there is plenty here to fascinate. Mabey's writing is richly evocative, his breadth of reference enormous.”
Neville Hawcock, FT Magazine
“Fencing Paradise is nothing like a guide to the place, but to read it while visiting the Eden Project is the equivalent of adding clotted cream to strawberries.”
Jane Owen, Friends magazine