"Stone by stone, seed by seed, they discover that sometimes life grows, not in spite of what is broken, but because of it." on All My Wild Mothers by Victoria Bennett
On 19 October 2007, Victoria Bennett was looking forward to new motherhood. At seven months pregnant, she was excited about what was to come. But when the telephone rang, the news she received changed everything. Her eldest sister had died in a canoeing accident.
Five years later, struggling with grief, the demands of being a parent-carer for her young son, and the impact of deeper austerity, life feels very different to the future she had imagined.
A move to a new social housing estate in rural Cumbria offers Victoria and her family a chance to rebuild their lives. Constructed over an industrial site, at first the barren ground seems an unlikely place to sow the seeds of a new life.
She and her son set about transforming the rubble around them into a wild apothecary garden. Daisy, for resilience. Dandelion, for strength against adversity. Red campion, to ward off loneliness. Sow thistle, to lift melancholy. Borage, to bring hope in dark and difficult times.
Stone by stone, seed by seed, they discover that sometimes life grows, not in spite of what is broken, but because of it.
Victoria Bennett is a poet and author, her writing has previously received a Northern Debut Award, a Northern Promise Award, the Andrew Waterhouse Award, and has been longlisted for the Penguin WriteNow programme and the inaugural Nan Shepherd Prize for under-represented voices. She founded Wild Women Press in 1999 to support rural women writers in her community, and since 2018 has curated the global Wild Woman Web project, an inclusive online space focusing on nature, connection, and creativity.
When not juggling writing, full-time care, and genetic illness, she can be found where the wild weeds grow.