On this episode of the garden podcast:
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. WHERE THE HORNBEAM GROWS is her first book.
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The book tells the story of how, when she unexpectedly had to move to Switzerland because of her husband’s job, Beth quickly realised that the sheer will to connect with people would not guarantee a happy relocation. Out of place and lonely, Beth knew that she would need to get her hands dirty to enable her to put down roots.
And so she set about making herself at home in the way she knew best – by tending a garden, growing things. The search for a garden would take 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 would learn to garden in a new way, taking her cue from the natural world. As she planted her paradise with hellebores and aquilegias, cornflowers and Japanese anemones, these cherished species forged 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 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.