THE BUMBLEBEE FLIES ANYWAY: A YEAR OF GARDENING AND (WILD)LIFE by Kate Bradbury
Bloomsbury, £16.99 ISBN 978-1472943101
A deeply personal account of how nature can be a great healer and can bring a little joy into even the darkest of days.
Author of The Wildlife Gardener and wildlife editor on BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, Kate Bradbury is passionate about conservation and protecting our native species. Her latest book, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway is an account of how moving to a flat in Brighton, with its unloved, tangle of a garden helped her to deal with heartbreak and suppressed grief, plus create a haven for wildlife in the midst of the city.
Set out over the course of a year, the book documents Bradbury’s progress in the garden and her new life in Brighton: waking up before sunrise to catch the stunning murmurations of starlings off Brighton Pier and the excitement of discovering the eggs of leaf-cutter bees inside her bee hotel. She is desperate to create a safe space for as many different species of wildlife as she possibly can and does so by digging a pond, filling borders with protective planting and sowing a lawn full of dandelions.
Bradbury’s thrifty solutions to bringing life back into a garden and her extensive gardening knowhow quickly results in success but her achievements are overshadowed by Bradbury’s despairing attitude to the larger task at hand and it can sometimes make you a little impatient with her.
Interspersed throughout the book are nostalgic memories of Bradbury’s childhood home and the wild garden she grew up in. She fondly remembers her grandmother who first introduced her to a cuckoo’s call and taught her the names of native hedgerow plants. It is clear that nature has always been a refuge for Bradbury.
Ultimately, this is an open account of how people and nature have an unfaltering desire to keep going, no matter how bad things get.