When I heard that The Bumblebee Flies Anyway was about reclaiming a decked over garden for the wildlife, I thought this is my kind of gardening book. When we moved into our house, the small garden (front and back) had been covered in concrete paving and gravel, not a bit of green in sight except for the occasional resilient dandelion. Why do people hate living things so much?

It’s a garden made from cuttings and stolen seed, dead turf and bits of root. Broken rules and a broken heart.

When Kate Bradbury moves to Brighton her budget is tight but she manages to find a basement flat with a small patch of garden. She sets about removing the decking and installing her bee hotels, planting species that will attract wildlife back into her garden. On either side, the gardens are all the same, barely any sign of life, does urban wildife stand any chance of finding her?

She talks about the different species who call Brighton home, how modern lifestyles and the ever increasing need for housing has made life difficult for wildlife. There are a vast variety of different bee species and I learned a bit about our resident solitary bees that are nesting the the holes left by a satellite dish. We thought they’d abandoned it but now I know they will stay in there over winter and emerge in spring.

In the garden it’s been winter for thirty years. It doesn’t change.

Whilst Kate wants to give over her whole garden to wildlife, she also highlights how even little things can help. A small pond will attract frogs soon enough. A few climbing plants or shrubs can give small birds privacy. A hotel made out of hollow stalks and a few bee-friendly flowers will soon get helpful bees hanging out to pollinate your veg.

I loved the gardening and wildlife bits, but like most nature memoirs these days, there is a large portion about personal tragedy. Kate’s mother suffers a stroke, and the change in the woman is heartbreaking. Yet it’s not really what I wanted to read about when I picked this book up.

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway is published by Bloomsbury and is available now in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Read Harder: A book about nature

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.