A Wood of One's Own

A Wood of One's Own
Ruth Pavey
Price: £
  • Hardback
21 Sep 2017
  • Biography & Memoir
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After years spent living amid the thrum of London, Ruth Pavey yearned to reconnect with the British countryside and she endeavoured to realise her long-held dream of planting a wood.

Touring to the West Country in the late 1990s, Pavey found herself in the Somerset Levels. On seeing this expanse of reclaimed land under its wide, soft skies she was struck by its beauty and set-out to plant a wood, tree by tree. She bought four acres, and over the years transformed them into a haven where woodland plants and creatures could flourish an emblem of enduring life in a changeable world.

A Wood of One's Own is the story of how she grew to understand and then shape this derelict land into an enduring legacy a verdant landscape rich with wildlife. Interwoven with Pavey's candid descriptions of the practical challenges she faced are forays into the Levels' local history, as well as thoughtful portraits of its inhabitants both past and present.

Accompanied throughout by the author's evocative hand-drawn illustrations, A Wood of One's Own is a lyrical, beguiling and inspiring story; a potent reminder of nature's delicate balance, and its comforting and abiding presence.


‘Captivating... if this book was not as much a pleasure to write as it is to read, I'll eat my hat and gardening glove... Pavey's unassuming memoir celebrates the imperfections of rural life and the virtues of spontaneity... the non-bravura style makes this book attractively illustrated with Pavey's black-and-white sketches a winner’ Kate Kellaway, Observer

‘So beguiling... Pavey's writing is everywhere amiable’ The Times Literary Supplement

‘[In planting her wood] the satisfactions are many... her book is a gentle, generous extension of that... one all her readers can share in’ The Lady, 5 stars 

‘Draws together childhood memories, local history… and literary penumbra’ Sunday Telegraph

Describes the labour of love to clear and replant the overgrown cider orchard... preserving a habitat for wildlife [and a] semi-ancient uncultivated woodland’ Ham and High

'by the end... I came to believe that she really did it and, briefly, that I could do it myself' Books of the Year, The Sunday Times

‘A delightful account… with intriguing digressions into local history and culture. [Pavey] writes with warmth and spirit, and brings this space to life in all its detail of plants, trees and wildlife’ Penelope Lively, author of The Purple Swamp Hen and winner of the Man Booker Prize for Tiger Moon

‘A lovely story – a super book’ Steve Yabsley, BBC Radio Bristol and Somerset

‘A lyrical story of desire and determination, soft and gentle, warm and wise in a wicked world’ Camden New Journal

‘Practical and full of helpful advice which has been artfully baked-in throughout. If someone asks you what you'd like for Christmas or a birthday don't hesitate to reply, "A Wood of one's own"’

'Pavey's love for her small patch of land shimmers off the page [in this] narrativeof warmth, honesty and great spirit — made all the more beautiful by Pavey's own lively and accomplished drawings... this lovely book is itself a gift — encouraging country-dweller and townie alike to marvel at the infinite possibilities at the heart of a single tree' The Daily Mail, Book of the Week

A good Christmas present for the dedicated gardener in your life’ BookishBeck

‘Fascinating… [Pavey] bring us into a world of escape from the hurly-burly of towns… will be enjoyed by many readers’ Nudge

'Pavey's writing is beautiful and very immersive...  I feel like to some extent I am sitting in the wood with her, hearing what she hears and seeing what she sees...  a wonderfully written, quiet, contemplative sort of book’ Ninja Book Box

‘a touching memoir written with gentle and thoughtful prose. I now am envious as I have always wanted a woodland I could call my own’ Half Man, Half Book

‘Discovering what already grew there, and what might grow well in future, finding out about the area’s history, and meeting the current inhabitants, both human and animal, all took time and patience [and] provided a learning curve as steep as the slope on her land. Her joys and her adventures are recounted with realism and humour’ Historic Gardens Review

Ruth Pavey

About Ruth Pavey

Ruth Pavey is the Gardening Correspondent for the Ham & High (Hampstead and Highgate Express). She attended the Rusking School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford, and a selection of her illustrated works are included in A Wood of One's Own, her first book. 

Pavey has reviewed books and written features for publications including the Observer, Guardian, New Statesman, Crafts, and the Garden, and was a contributor to BBC Radio 4's programme Kaleidoscope.