Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent
When she was a girl, Alice Vincent loved her grandfather’s garden – the freedom, the calm, the beauty of it. Twenty years later, living in a tiny flat in South London, that childhood in the garden feels like a dream.
When she suddenly finds herself uprooted, heartbroken, living out of a suitcase and yearning for the comfort of home, Alice starts to plant seeds. She nurtures pot plants and vines on windowsills and draining boards, filling her new space with green, and with each unfurling petal and budding leaf, she begins to come back to life.
Mixing memoir, botanical history and biography, Rootbound examines how bringing a little bit of the outside in can help us find our feet in a world spinning far too fast.
LONGLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2020
There is something about tending plants whether you have a garden or a balcony that gives you a real sense of belonging and grounding. All forms of nature and by that I include gardening is extremely important to our wellbeing. Recently the longlist for The 2020 Wainwright Prize was announced and I am delighted at seeing Rootbound (Canongate) by Alice Vincent is among the thirteen books to have made the longlist for UK Nature Writing.
Alice is now the feature editor for Penguin Books but was previously an editor and writer on the arts desk at The Telegraph, but it is gardening that is a passion that gives Alice her grounding. It was 2014 that she taught herself gardening and learning and watching plants grow taught her about how important nature is and can help us in our lives and also in a world that at times seems to be out of control. Alice released her first book How to Grow Stuff back in 2017 and has since written for various gardening magazines.
What really struck me about Rootbound was how beautifully Alice Vincent writes. It is when something happens in her own personal life that suddenly shook Alice, a real sense of suddenness but there was something she would find that would become important in her life. A rural past would become the bedrock for the future. At a young age when everything seemingly fits so well in life including writing for a major newspaper you could think that life is working out really well. Something was missing.
That what was missing was indeed plants and the need to grow and nurture and also to understand. Interspersed into Alice’s memoir are the historical horticultural notes, especially the women who worked tirelessly to create a future for themselves the world of horticulture. Memories of her grandfather’s peaceful garden and when life suddenly becomes harder and leaves her heartbroken and bereft this is where nature becomes the cure. Planting a few seeds and the roots are put down for the future. As I know only too well once you start it never leaves you. Watching the plants grow and become established through the different seasons, it is like nature taking you by the hand. It won’t let go now.
There are wonderful stories of travel to different parts of the world and also closer to home give you the urge to want to explore these lands and their wonders. Rootbound by Alice Vincent is a memoir but also horticultural history. The joy and the sorrow but also finding the beauty in watching plants grow. An open and honest and also brave account of her life. Reading Rootbound I saw through these pages someone who was broken but through the power of nature she became whole again.
If you want to learn more about Alice Vincent head over to her personal Instagram account. It really is quite special.
For more information on The Wainwright Prize 2020: The Wainwright Prize
Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent was published by Canongate and was published on 30th January 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
2 thoughts on “Rootbound: Rewilding a Life by Alice Vincent”
This does sound a very special book. I have been trying to learn how to be a vegetable gardener and I wouldn’t massively recommend doing that during a global pandemic when you’re working full-time and don’t have the appropriate time and energy to devote to it!
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This is a rather special book Liz. Alice has poured her heart out into Rootbound. It is gardening that really helped her with memories of her grandfather’s garden. I would give it a go both reading this as it may inspire you to try some vegetable growing. Thank you Liz. John
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