The Unofficial Countryside by Richard Mabey

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The Unofficial Countryside by Richard Mabey

Post: # 53371Post Muddypause »

Richard Mabey is probably best know on this forum for his perennial classic 'Food For Free'. But he's written a shelf full of other stuff, too.

I bought The Unofficial Countryside about 10 years ago (first published 1973), read about 30 pages, but wasn't inspired to read further. I've just got round to finishing it. I'm not sure if it's still in print - Amazon only seem to have secondhand copies available.

It's not a long book, and it's entertaining enough, but sometimes its hard to figure out what the point of it is. Really, it's just a long essay about the way that nature will always find a way to establish itself in even the most man-made environment. The writer wanders about the place and reflects about the flora and fauna he finds in unnaturally managed corners of the country. If this had been written 30 years later it would have been a blog, not a book.

Actually, there was not a whole lot of new stuff to be learned from this book, which was a bit of a disappointment, but there were a couple of gems in there - I didn't know that the orchid cannot grow unless the seedling engages in a life-or-death struggle with a fungus, and nor did I know that a lichen is actually two distinct organisms in symbiosis - one that has roots that can cling to a rocky surface but cannot derive nutrition from it, and one that can capture rain washed minerals from the surface but has no means to hold on.

But I'd say it's worth the 39 pence secondhand price that is being asked for it.

ISBN 0-7126-6506-4

Ignorance is essential

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