THE BUMBLEBEE FLIES ANY­WAY: A YEAR OF GAR­DEN­ING AND (WILD)LIFE by Kate Brad­bury

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Book Reviews - Re­viewer Alys Hurn is staff writer for Gar­dens Il­lus­trated

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.

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