Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden

Category: Book
By (author): Hamer, Marc
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Environmentalists & Naturalists
  GARDENING / Essays & Narratives
  NATURE / Essays
  NON-FICTION / General
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Greystone Books
Published: May 2021
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 312
Size: 8.50in x 5.50in x 1.04in
Our Price:
$ 34.95
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

For readers of Late Migrations and Vesper Flights

A stunning meditation on gardening and the wisdom of plants, "that rare book that will appeal to nonfiction readers everywhere ... Candid, tender, thoughtful and absorbing." -Shelf Awareness (STARRED Review) 

With "chapters... [that] shimmer like lantern slides, lit with luminous imagery ... Seed to Dust is an invitation to read this world as Mr. Hamer does-with a close eye to what changes, and what does not."-The Wall Street Journal

Marc Hamer has nurtured the same 12-acre garden in the Welsh countryside for over two decades. The garden is vast and intricate. It's rarely visited, and only Hamer knows of its secrets. But it's not his garden. It belongs to his wealthy and elegant employer, Miss Cashmere. But the garden does not really belong to her, either. As Hamer writes, "Like a book, a garden belongs to everyone who sees it."

In Seed to Dust, Marc Hamer paints a beautiful portrait of the garden that "belongs to everyone." He describes a year in his life as a country gardener, with each chapter named for the month he's in. As he works, he muses on the unusual folklores of his beloved plants. He observes the creatures who scurry and hide from his blade or rake. And he reflects on his own life: living homeless as a young man, his loving relationship with his wife and children, and-now-feeling the effects of old age on body and mind.

As the seasons change, Hamer also reflects on the changes he has observed in Miss Cashmere's life from afar: the death of her husband and the departure of her children from the stately home where she now lives alone. At the book's end, Hamer's connection to Miss Cashmere changes shape, and new insights into relationships and the beauty and brutality of nature emerge. 

Just like all good books and gardens, Seed to Dust is filled with equal parts life and death, beauty and decay, and every reader will find something different to admire.

Review Quote*

"Mr. Hamer has found his ideal calling in this book stitched together from small essays, a genre in which such capricious mutability of opinion is not only tolerated but encouraged. Through his words, we connect with the ultimate text, the landscape itself." 
-Wall Street Journal

"Seed to Dust is a magical amalgamation of memoir, natural history, philosophy and gardening, a breathtaking narrative that transcends genre and geography. Fans of Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk and Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek will find Hamer to be a kindred spirit. Candid, tender, thoughtful and absorbing, Seed to Dust is that rare book that will appeal to nonfiction readers everywhere." 
-Shelf Awareness STARRED review

"A wholly original, semi-autobiographical book on how to live, how to be calm and content with only a little, in a quietly humming garden." 
-Daily Mail

"Hamer's plant wisdom is his way of understanding culture at large ... Life's affirmation is to be found everywhere in [Seed to Dust]" 
-Toronto Star

"Hamer has a canny way of divining the sacred in the quotidian." 

"I'm so grateful that this kindred spirit set aside his tools awhile and came indoors to write. No facet of nature, however subtle, eludes Marc Hamer-and I relish being invited along on each intimate adventure." 
-Margaret Roach, author of A Way to Garden

"[Hamer] is a life-hardened man who has made himself soft…a man who has come through." 
-The Guardian

"An intensely lyrical account of a single year." 
-Mail on Sunday (UK)

"Beautiful... gardeners and armchair philosophers will find his musings strike a chord." 
-Publishers Weekly

"A meditative account of a year in the twelve-acre British garden [Hamer] tended for decades. Seed to Dust posits nature and love as consolations for life's sadness." 
-Foreword Reviews

"In Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden, Hamer showcases his intimate knowledge of the natural world... Hamer's careful eye for detail and deep knowledge of the garden's dozens upon dozens of plants are used to great effect, creating a lush landscape into which a reader can disappear. In Seed to Dust, Hamer invites readers to join him in quiet meditation on the earth." 
-Book Page

"[Hamer's] book also explored broader questions about humanity's connection to nature, and with his new book Seed to Dust, he continues his foray into mortality, gardening and cycles of rebirth." 
-The Herald (UK)

"Hamer uses the material all around as the springboard for reflections on how to live a small-scale, spiritually aware life. ...making the case for seeing our place within nature, and relishing our contact with it." 
-The Herald (UK)

"Seed to Dust draws on Hamer's deep sense of connection with plants and the earth as well as a lifetime of experience. Beautifully observed and quietly reflective, this is an absorbing and life-affirming read." 
-Sue Stuart-Smith, author of The Well-Gardened Mind

"An escape from the chaos of the world... [Marc Hamer] brings the reader right alongside him as he works, so we can really feel the sting of the rose thorns and the energy of a garden awakening and blooming." 
-Lulah Ellender, author of Elisabeth's Lists: A Life Between the Lines

Praise for How to Catch a Mole:

"This is an extraordinary book: part natural history, part memoir, part poetry-all entirely gorgeous. I've read no other book like this. Its beauty and heartbreak will stay with me for a long time. PS: the author stops killing moles, thank goodness."
-Sy Montgomery,New York Times bestselling author of How to Be a Good Creature and The Soul of an Octopus

"[Marc Hamer's] wonderful book, How to Catch a Mole, is a beautiful, elegiac ode to a remarkable creature. Each page is filled with wonder, love, regret, humility and a sense of wonder (and oneness) with nature."
-Washington Post

"Informative and effortlessly readable... Ultimately a reflection on humanity's fraught but sustaining relationship with nature." 
-Publishers Weekly

"How to Catch a Mole is a small book of many things. In quiet, crystalline prose, it blends memoir, keen observations of nature, and ruminations about life, aging and death."
-Wall Street Journal

"Welsh molecatcher, gardener-and debut author-does not disappoint. How to Catch a Mole soars on the plain-spoken yet eloquent observations of its author and incorporates poetry and philosophy."
-Toronto Star

"Marc Hamer's uplifting writings shed some light on the velvety creatures burrowing beneath our countryside."
-National Geographic Traveller

"A beguiling mixture: part autobiography, part handbook, part travel book, part philosophical treatise. I'm happy to report that it succeeds on each level.""
-Daily Mail

Biographical Note

MARC HAMER was born in the North of England but has lived in Wales for more than thirty years. After spending a period of time homeless, then working on the railway, he returned to education and studied fine art. Hamer worked in art galleries and taught creative writing in prisons before becoming a gardener and mole catcher. He is the author of How to Catch a Mole.