I’m beyond excited to be able to share one of the biggest projects I’ve been working on for the last few years, my first gardening book called Wild about Weeds: Garden Design with Rebel Plants (available to pre-order on Amazon now). It will be published by Laurence King on 21st October. Laurence King have worked incredibly hard and totally ‘got’ the idea from the start, doing such a wonderful job I am over-the-moon. When the cover was first suggested at the end, we all said “that’s it”!
Wild about Weeds is more than a practical guide for making gardens look beautiful – although it mainly focuses on this – it is a very personal book to me. It documents my love affair with the plants we’ve come to know as weeds, the connection I feel with these misunderstood outsiders. It’s a book that explores the future of how and why we garden and the role the plants we’ve come to know as weeds will play in all of our futures; whether we want them to or not. Of course, it explores the beauty of these stunning, clever and useful plants.
My love of weeds started as a boy. I remember sitting on the lawn at school during lunch breaks picking the leaves of plantain and the flowers of daisies, looking at their structures closely. From there I have observed the beauty of weeds for decades; in gardens, on the streets in places like Brighton where I worked and London where I live. It has become an obsession: how they grow, where they grow, insects they attract, lifecycles and more. The concept of a book then started to grow while first studying at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh years ago, learning about controlling some of these plants but then seeing many used in show gardens.
In terms of process, over the last five or so years I had been forming a long list of hundreds of weeds, gradually whittling them down to a carefully curated list I can recommend, included in the book. This was done by trialing each weed as part of forty or so of my garden designs, studying them in the wild and in other gardens around the world. I also spoke to a great many other experts from the world of horticulture, botany and conservation (a few I went on to interview, included in the book). Along the way I’ve amassed an archive of over 10,000 photos of weeds and I’m thrilled that a hundred or so are included in the book.
This has all led to me incorporating weeds into my garden designs. This book explores my own emerging design style and ethos around a garden being alive, to be encouraged to change over time. Wild about Weeds explains how to do this, what a weed brings to the party and how to manage each one (or eradicate it if it gets too much). I’ve also looked at the worst weeds to avoid and those weeds that have transcended already into our good books.
Mostly I hope you enjoy the book and take something from it. Whether that’s to identify a colourful weed you see growing out of pavements or walls, ideally to find at least one weed that you love too. Or at least, to better understand weeds to be able to deal with them more easily.