A journey through the most unlikely of gardens: the oases of peace people create in the midst of war
In this millennium, we have become war weary. From Afghanistan to Iraq, from Ukraine to South Sudan and Syria, from Kashmir to the West Bank, conflict is as contagious and poisonous as Japanese knotweed. Living through it are people just like us with ordinary jobs, ordinary pressures and ordinary lives. Against a new landscape of horror and violence it is up to them to maintain a modicum of normality and colour. For some, gardening is the way to achieve this.
Working in the world’s most dangerous war zones, freelance war correspondent and photographer Lally Snow has often chanced across a very moving sight, a testimony to the triumph of the human spirit in adversity, a celebration of hope and beauty: a war garden. In Kabul, the royal gardens are tended by a centenarian gardener, though the king is long gone; in Camp Bastion, bored soldiers improvise tiny gardens to give themselves a moment’s peace; on both sides of the dividing line in Jerusalem families tend groves of olives and raise beautiful plants from the unforgiving, disputed landscape; in Ukraine, families tend their gardens in the middle of a surreal, frozen war.
War Gardens is a surprising, tragic and beautiful journey through the darkest places of the modern world, revealing the ways people make time and space for themselves and for nature even in the middle of destruction. Illustrated with Lally Snow’s own award-winning photography, this is a book to treasure.