Chasing the Ghost: My Search for all the Wild Flowers of Britain Hardcover – 15 Mar 2018
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"Peter Marren is the unsung hero of Britain's nature writers. His luminous prose sheds light on the forgotten corners of Britain's natural heritage – our diverse and sometimes bizarre flora – and his quest to see every single species in the country. He is the perfect guide, leading us along the highways and byways, through wayside and woodland, as he tracks down some of our rarest and most fascinating plants. Delightful." (Stephen Moss, naturalist and author)
"Planting hunting here or abroad has always pulled in great enthusiasts. In Marren’s case it is a quiet enthusiasm, not academic, but companionable and intimate. He delivers easily all kinds of fascinating thoughts and information about the natural world… There is philosophy too. He understands that no ecosystem has a perfect moment to which it ought always to be restored. Environments change for better and worse, populations of plants and animals wax and wane. Ecology is flux. And does he find the ghost orchid? Well, he’s philosophical about that." (The Times)
"Peter Marren writes with such knowledge and affection for plants, and in such a modest and winning manner that few could help wanting to be a plant spotter in this image... If you already have the botany bug then you’ll want to read this book, and to own it so that you can dip into it in future years, but even for the confirmed non-botanist like myself, this is a very good read and one which makes me slightly uneasy about how much I have been missing by looking up rather than down and how blinkered is my view of the natural world." (Dr Mark Avery)
"A poignant reminder to us all to engage with the wild flower that grow around us" (i Newspaper)
"Wonderful... This book would appeal to anyone with an enthusiasm for wildflowers or an interest in the history of natural history" (Hannah Gardner Gardens Illustrated)
About the Author
Peter Marren is a wildlife writer, journalist and authority on invertebrate folklore and names. His books include the bestselling Rainbow Dust; The New Naturalists, which won the Society for the History of Natural History’s Thackray Medal; and Britain’s Rare Flowers, which won the Botanical Society of the British Isles’ Presidents’ Award. Peter also won a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for his work on Bugs Britannica.
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Very much like RAINBOW DUST had done, it pulled me along with great enjoyment and again I felt slightly bereft when it ran out of pages! There are few people left whose underlying strategy is didactic but who knows how to ice the cake with stories and amusing asides. Encounters with a perfidious weather system out to get him, sheep poo and the rest, tics and worse still examples of Local Government crass stupidity! Sometimes regrets that the bulk of humanity seems to have lost its soul and he may well be right on that one. The book runs chronologically through the year and each rare plant has its own section, a brief description of its finer points, a little history where required and the vicissitudes sometimes encountered locating the more illusive examples. One man's quest to find the last fifty plants in this realm that had so far remained unticked and all in a year! Perhaps also, before he became too old to want to get soaked in the rain, walk miles full of hope only to encounter unplanned for difficulties at the end. One or two plants would remain unticked in flower but overall he succeeded and wrote a good book about his adventures. Four stars because I liked it very much but managed not to fall in love with it! Rather him than me was my final thought but I am about ten years older and lost the zest for wind, rain, bog, animal poo and hostile landowners at around the age he is now!