Alumnus Dr Tony Kendle celebrates the power of local spaces in his new book ‘A Wonder in the Garden’

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Tony Kendle and book cover A Wonder in the Garden
Dr Tony Kendle (PhD Botany 1998) and the cover of his book ‘A Wonder in the Garden’

Over the last 12 months, as people around the world have been instructed to stay at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus, it has been an opportunity for many to fall back in love with their homes and local spaces. In this time of finding joy in staying home, University of Liverpool alumnus, Dr Tony Kendle (PhD Botany 1998), has written a book, A Wonder in the Garden, about the rich world of nature available to us just outside our doors.

During his time at the University of Liverpool, Dr Tony Kendle joined Professor Tony Bradshaw’s team in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Botany, who had been researching how to restore and revegetate the china clay quarries and spoil heaps of mid Cornwall.

Tony said: "After graduation I began a job teaching Ecology and Landscape Management at the University of Reading. From there, building on both experiences I became part of the team creating the Eden Project in Cornwall. Professor Tony Bradshaw was very pleased when he visited to see the techniques he had developed, being applied in such an unexpected way."

Discussing the inspiration behind his book, Tony said: "Thanks at least in part to the interest Professor Tony Bradshaw had in the ecology of urban wasteland vegetation, I started to study the nature of cities and eventually wrote a textbook called Urban Nature Conservation."

"When the pandemic lockdown struck, it became obvious that our access to nature had become severely curtailed. During that extraordinary time, once favourite haunts were suddenly closed to us even those nearby that we had walked to daily. This underlined how fragile our connections to nature can become in times of upheaval."

"As our horizons shrank I realised that the lifelines remained the very nearest nature we could access, gardens for those that have them, and for those that do not there are still the tiny moss rainforests on crumbling walls at the edge of the industrial estate and lichens growing on street tree trunks. Wherever we are there is nature nearby that we can turn to, we just tend to overlook what’s there."

"The purpose of this book is to help people learn more about the rich biodiversity that lives just beyond our doorsteps, a source of wonders that can do much to boost or health and our understanding of our environments. It is also a challenge, to look harder to recalibrate our senses and to learn to connect with a world so familiar yet so poorly understood."

Tony added: "Whether first wave, second wave or ongoing, pandemics are not the only upheaval on our horizon that threatens our connections to nature and our freedom to enjoy them. Somehow, we must find a way to stay connected and healthy through these challenges to come. Thankfully our nearby nature and our gardens will remain our refuge and sanctuary and an ever more crucial health-giver in future hard times, just as they have before."

As spring approaches and we are able to return to our gardens, Tony said: "Try to get outside if just a few minutes daily, observe what’s happening, learn the rhythms and the cycles, you will be amazed at how much richness lies in wait."

Dr Tony Kendle’s book can be pre-ordered here, prior to its release date on 16 July 2021.