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Finding herself in a new home in Brighton, Kate Bradbury sets about transforming her decked, barren backyard into a beautiful wildlife garden. She documents the unbuttoning of the earth and the rebirth of the garden, the rewilding of a tiny urban space. On her own she unscrews, saws and hammers the decking away, she clears the builders' rubble and rubbish beneath it, and she digs and enriches the soil, gradually planting it up with plants she knows will attract wildlife. She erects bird boxes and bee hotels, hangs feeders and grows nectar- and pollen-rich plants, and slowly brings life back to the garden.
But while she's doing this Kate's neighbours continue to pave and deck their gardens locking them away, the wildlife she tries to save is further threatened, and she feels she's fighting an uphill battle. Is there any point in gardening for wildlife when everyone else is drowning the land in poison and cement?
Sadly, events take Kate away from her garden, and she finds herself back home in Birmingham where she grew up, travelling the roads she used to race down on her bike in the eighties, thinking of the gardens and wildlife she loved, witnessing more land lost beneath paving stones. If the dead could return, what would they say about the land we have taken, the ancient routes we have carved up, the wildlife we have lost?
Kate Bradbury is the wildlife editor on BBC Gardeners' World magazine, and a freelance writer for the Guardian, BBC Wildlife magazine, and Telegraph Gardening. Kate is a regular contributor to BBC Gardener's Question Time. Her book The Wildlife Gardener (published by Kyle Books, May 2013) was the Environmental Award winner at the Garden Media Guild Awards in 2013. Kate is a Butterfly Conservation Ambassador and A Focus on Nature mentor.
"Shines a light on the simple brilliance of life."
– Chris Packham
"Reading this book made me itch to get out into my own garden and peer under piles of dead leaves to look for beetles. A moving tribute to the space Kate Bradbury creates and her skill as a gardener."
– Alys Fowler, The Garden
"A truly inspiring account of transformation, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway made me simultaneously want to read on to the final page, and rush out to my garden."
– Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley
"A glorious thing that is part autobiography, part gardening book and part fierce invective against the sterilisation of our urban landscapes when they are an increasingly important haven for wildlife."
– Amateur Gardening
"A beautiful story of a garden brought back from the dead."
– Eleanor Morton, Countryman
"Quirky, passionate and endearing, an inspiring account of bringing a tiny garden back to life."
– Dave Goulson, author of A Sting in the Tale and Bee Quest
"It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me mourn the loss of our green spaces but have hope for the wild places that remain. There is no louder, fresher voice for the value of urban wildlife."
– Jules Howard, zoologist and author of Sex on Earth
"Bradbury 'unbuttons the earth' and lets the bumblebees, foxgloves and sparrows return at their own pace. A rallying cry for the wildlife garden."
– Louise Gray, author of The Ethical Carnivore
"This is an important and timely book. I defy anyone who reads it not to want to do more to help their local wildlife."
– Brigit Strawbridge, wildlife gardener and bee campaigner
"A gorgeous – and informative – read."
– Penny McCormick, The Gloss
"A wonderful and moving book about how a slice of nature at the backdoor offers refuge not only to the city wildlife but to the garden too."
– Alys Fowler, author of Hidden Nature and The Edible Garden
"This is a beautiful, heartfelt book of hopeful wildlife gardening in the face of declining habitats and life's tendency to trip us up when we least need it."
– Amateur Gardening