The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, by Kate Bradbury

I could try one of those skillful preambles that book reviewers write, the sort of thing that pulls you in, makes you want to read what they really think of the book. I’m not a skillful book reviewer, however, so I’m just going to lay my cards on the table right away.

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway is the finest books about urban wildlife – appreciating it completely in it all its variety, the rare and the commonplace – that I’ve ever read and I think you should read it.

I wasn’t at all familiar with Kate Bradbury before reading about the book on Caught by the river (go there if you want to read a proper book review!) and decided to take a punt on buying a copy. I’m so glad I did. Kate Bradbury’s voice is honest, original, emotional and enthusiastic to go with her undoubted knowledge. How I wish there were more voices like Kate’s out there right now.

Kate Bradbury turns the most unpromising of urban gardens, all decking and rock, into a thriving garden for the benefit of wildlife in this book, but this is not a how-to guide. Its very much about the experience and the emotion of doing so, the highs and the lows. As the garden progresses and its story unfolds the sheer love of nature that Kate Bradbury has is clear on every page. Its truly inspiring to see the sincere joy that she takes in the sight of birds and beasts that others might dismiss as ordinary. Its equally inspiring to read her honest devastation at the losses too. I found myself thinking repeatedly while reading this book, I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels like that.

Kate Bradbury is a woman who really gets it, who gets (and lives, which is perhaps the most inspiring part of this book) that wildness is just outside the window and if we love it for its own sake then it will give and give and give to us. Its not a book that is just about the warm-fuzzy, however. The traumatic experiences described so eloquently in the book are harrowing to read and yet it is Kate’s connection with nature which is both an outlet and escape at these times. Life and wildlife indeed. Equally eloquent are Kate’s passionate explanations and examples of how what we do on the micro-scale of destroying our own environment in the shape of our gardens has a destructive effect on nature. Reading the book at the same time as a neighbouring garden to my own was attacked and destroyed by digger and cement mixer made those statements all the more timely.

I do hope there are going to more books from Kate Bradbury in the future. I’ve never read a “gardening book” in my life but I’d read anything that Kate writes in the future, hers is a voice that needs to be heard.

Do yourself a favour and read a book by a writer who writes much more clearly and eloquently about the important, pleasure and joy of our wildlife where you live than I’ll ever manage to do! Read The Bumblebee Flies Anyway.