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A Fountain of Flowers
Essay Collection
Page Count
Word Count
Michael Joseph
Publication Year
Document Types
Kent, Gardening

London: Michael Joseph, 1974.

Bates's last work of nature writing focuses on specific flowering plants, their scents and names, plant discoveries and history, and related topics like birds and planting from seed. Similar to his other gardening works, the book rarely strays into the kinds of observations on society, nature, and modern life that characterize his other non-fictional work.

The preface and twenty-four essays express Bates's philosophy that "true gardens" are not made "wholly of professional skills or tomes of encyclopaedic knowledge or even of green fingers: but love." Sixteen pages of color plates by Patrick Matthews are of special interest in consisting partly, or possibly completely, of photographs of Bates's own garden, including one photograph of the family home in Kent.

Published posthumously and written in the last months of Bates's life, Baldwin (1987, p. 229) speculates that "it must have been sheer willpower that saw him through the writing of his last work of nonfiction." Only chapter 11 is known to have been published previously, with the title The Nature Trail on Hothfield Common.

The Times Literary Supplement calls it "a delightfully exuberant and infectious love of nature and an enthusiasm for the many varieties of plants growing in his own garden are conveyed to the reader in a generous outgoing way which is irresistible."


  • Times Literary Supplement (December 13, 1974, p. 1421, Camilla Sykes, attached)


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.