Mabey In The Wild


01Wild Daffodils20110703

Wordsworth wrote his famous poem about them and they were once so plentiful that a special train service was employed to distribute them around the country...the wild daffodil is Richard Mabey's first choice of plant in his new series 'Mabey in the Wild'.

From an ancient wood in Suffolk where the wild daffodil grows in profusion, Richard tells the story of this plant - its natural history and the important part it still plays in the life of the villages of the 'Golden Triangle' in Gloucestershire where once the Daffodil Express came to collect thousands of bunches of the flower.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio.

Richard Mabey gives an account of the natural and cultural history of the wild daffodil.

02Snake's Head Fritillary20110710

In a beautifully preserved ancient meadow in Suffolk, the naturalist Richard Mabey encounters a marvellous swathe of purple Snakes Head Fritillaries.

The plants are rare in the wild, especially in such numbers.

Richard tells their story, accounts for the name and we visit the village of Ducklington in Oxfordshire where the tradition of 'Fritillary Sunday' continues - not, these days, to pick the plants, but to admire and photograph them.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Naturalist Richard Mabey considers the sultry beauty of the wild Snake's Head Fritillary.

03Wild Roses20110717

are treasured for their simple beauty.

Richard Mabey finds them in the rambling hedgerows of rural Norfolk and explains something of their natural and cultural history.

Wild roses have inspired poets and painters - Shakespeare's famous line 'with sweet musk roses and with eglantine' describing the bank where Titania sleeps in Midsummer's Night's Dream is a tribute to the dreamy smell of some wild roses - but references go back through history to the Persian poets.

Richard also celebrates the part that the robust wild rose has played in the breeding of cultivates roses.

He talks to Peter Beales - one of the country's most respected authorities on roses - about the part the wild rose has played in developing the garden varieties.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Richard Mabey with an appreciation of the natural and cultural history of the wild rose.

04Indian Balsam20110724

is a contentious plant.

It may be beautiful and prolific, attractive to bees and first to colonise the empty mud banks of rivers - but many revile its invasiveness and accuse the plant of shading out and squeezing out native varieties.

They have declared war on Indian balsam.

Richard Mabey takes a different view.

He celebrates the plant that was introduced to British gardens in 1839 and then 'escaped' into the wild.

He reflects on its robust nature and wonders at the wisdom of trying to eliminated it.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Richard Mabey speaks in defence of the Indian balsam - the hated wild wetland invader.

05 LASTSamphire20110731

(pronounced 'sam-fer') is Richard Mabey's favourite edible wild plant.

In this programme he's on the marshy coast of Suffolk where the plant grows in shallow water.

He celebrates the pleasures of eating the plant that used to be known as 'poor man's asparagus' but which is now fashionable in restaurants across the land.

Richard explains something of the plant's history, its appearance in literature and we go onto the foggy marshes of the Wash with Michael Castleton who has been gathering samphire for more than 40 years.

Richard concludes the programme (and the series) with news that samphire is being used in experiments to mitigate coastal erosion on the east coast of England.

Samphire is a pioneering plant that helps to MAKE land.

So our wild flora is not just a beautiful enhancement of our countryside - it may have a vital part to play in its future too.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

Richard Mabey is on the Suffolk coast to celebrate the edible joys of wild samphire.


In the first of two programmes about British trees, Richard Mabey is in Hampshire to tell the natural and the cultural history of the Yew, the Beech and the Elm.

His journey takes him from Gilbert White's village of Selborne down into the New Forest. He gives an account of these favourite British trees not only in terms of what they have contributed to the landscape but what their uses have been and what part they have played in human history, mythology and religion.

From the 3000 year old Yew to the recent resurgence of young elm after the devastation of Dutch Elm disease, this is also a fascinating glimpse of the tenacity and resilience of trees in the wild.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

0202 LAST20130703

Richard Mabey is that rare species - a gifted writer who can talk about the natural world in a way that interweaves botany, personal insights, intellectual history, art, memoir, poetry and an account of man's relationship with Nature.

Here he turns his attention to three favourite trees in the British landscape - the much-battered Elm, the festive Holly and his own 'personal' tree, the Beech.

Recorded on location in the New Forest his guests include the naturalist Clive Chatters and founder of Common Ground, Susan Clifford.

Producer: Susan Marling

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.