Book Review: Wonderground Journal

“Wonderground Journal” by Georgina Reid

Reviewed by Emma Herd

During 2020 everyone had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. One constant source of optimism that I found throughout the ordeal was my connection to nature. It seems I am in very good company with Australian writer, gardener and landscape designer Georgina Reid. Georgina has compiled ‘Wonderground Journal’ as the physical manifestation of her online treasure trove, The Planthunter.

This first issue of the Journal is called Arise and Shine and was released earlier this year. Like a wonderfully composed piece of music, the journal leads with a hook of optimistic light from contributor David Godshall. A landscape architect from California, he is embarking on a pair of community test plots to gather data and grow hope, in spite of bureaucratic hurdles.

Next up Georgina tells her personal journey of ‘Listening to Land’, the article’s apt name.

Alongside Charles Massy and his daughter Tanya, Georgina writes about the urgency with which we need to not only understand more about agricultural landscapes but go further and recreate them. Inherent to this Massy says, is “appreciating that humans must adapt to this ancient land and its climate and biota, not the other way round”. Having entrenched ourselves deeply into the commodification of nature, can agriculture shift to a new path? One that is emblematic of Australia’s need to mend our relationship with our first people and the lands that were stolen? Perhaps we have a chance, if we can listen.

The writing of Zena Cumpston tells her perspective on country. It’s clear and profound. Great contributions are also made by Rachel Mead through poetry. Alisa Bryce speaks so fondly of the soil that sustains all. And Felix De Rosen ponders on what the world would be like if we were incentivised tangibly, to collaborate ‘…towards the most resilient biodiversity?’. The final piece written by Georgina called ‘The Beauty and the Terror’ is so experiential and evocative. It might make you sad but it might also inspire you to see and feel it all. You’ll simply have to read it for yourself.

There’s so much more to discover in this publication, copies are sold out online but if you can, borrow one from a friend or library. I highly recommend it!

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