Where the Hornbeam Grows
A Journey in Search of a Garden
By Beth Lynch
A stunning literary memoir about inheritance, loneliness and the healing power of gardening, about how nurturing a garden can help make a home in an unfamiliar place
What do you do when you find yourself living as a stranger? When Beth Lynch moved to Switzerland, she quickly realised that the sheer will to connect with people would not guarantee a happy relocation.
Out of place and lonely, Beth knows that she needs to get her hands dirty if she is to put down roots. And so she sets about making herself at home in the way she knows best - by tending a garden, growing things. The search for a garden takes her across the country, through meadows and on mountain paths where familiar garden plants run wild, to the rugged hills of the Swiss Jura. In this remote and unfamiliar place of glow worms and dormice and singing toads she learns to garden in a new way, taking her cue from the natural world. As she plants her paradise with hellebores and aquilegias, cornflowers and Japanese anemones, these cherished species forge green and deepening connections: to her new soil, to her old life in England, and to her deceased parents, whose Sussex garden continues to flourish in her heart.
WHERE THE HORNBEAM GROWS is a memoir about carrying a garden inwardly through loss, dislocation and relocation, about finding a sense of wellbeing in a green place of your own, and about the limits of paradise in a peopled world. It is a powerful exploration by a dazzling new literary voice of how, in nurturing a corner of the natural world, we ourselves are nurtured.
Beth Lynch grew up in rural East Sussex. She read English at Cambridge and went on to complete a doctorate in seventeenth-century literature. For the next decade she worked as a lecturer, creating gardens in her spare time and ultimately training as a garden designer. She then moved unexpectedly to Switzerland, where she lived and gardened for seven years. She has recently returned to the UK.
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- Publication date:
18 Apr 2019
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Beth Lynch's subtle and moving book is about the heart-work of finding and making a place for oneself in the world; the effort of putting down roots, the pain of tearing them up again, and how one grows to know another person or another landscape. Horticulture and human feelings twine together here - and what flourishes in the several gardens of this book is, in the end, hope — ROBERT MACFARLANE
I loved Beth Lynch's tender, wise meditation on grief, home, and the restorative magic of making a garden — OLIVIA LAING, author of THE LONELY CITY
Beth's prose is as iridescent as the alpine gentians she describes. Her deep love of plants and gardens shines off every page — JESSICA SEATON
Gorgeously written memoir about inheritance, exile and the healing power of gardening — Caroline Sanderson, 'Editor's Choice' - The Bookseller