Weeds by Richard Mabey

Richard Mabey’s new book is as much a story about human nature as it is about plants. After all, a plant is only a weed when humans say it is.

We’ve been worried about weeds for a long time and Mabey has to stretch back to the birth of farming in order to start his story. As the book meanders its way through human history, it weaves together science, literature, poetry and art to tell the tale of our love-hate relationship with weeds. Mabey covers everything from cannabis to the triffids and although his tangents can sometimes be distracting, human beings are the backbone of this book and this gives the story the direction it needs to keeps its bearing to the end. Mabey’s passion for the subject is infectious, he talks about each plant like it’s an old friend, and his writing is both lively and full of humour. What makes the story so compelling is that it makes you think. Mabey tips your old way of looking at the world until s ordinary objects suddenly take on deeper, more symbolic meanings. These ideas will linger with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Weeds by Richard Mabey (RRP £15.99) is out now.

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