One of the stars of Jenny Uglow's previous book, The Lunar Men, was Charles Darwin's grandfather Erasmus, author of a remarkably fanciful and elaborate scientific poem, 'The Botanic Garden', and of a hefty tome on the science of gardening and agriculture. Dr Danvin was also a keen promoter of hothouses: his own was eighty-two feet long and provided him with melons, cucumbers and grapes, but not, he reluctantly admitted, pineapples.
Uglow's affection for Darwin shone through her book. I'd like to think that it was he who inspired her to write this cheerful conversational romp across the centuries - from the zealous, businesslike Romans to allotment plots and the desolate, stricken elegance of Derek Jarman's pebble gardenscape at Dungeness. The