Please bring binoculars with you if you have them.
I’m teaming up with author of 3 books on wildlife gardening and Gardeners World wildlife editor Kate Bradbury* for a day learning how to attract wildlife to and provide for it in your garden and how spending time in your patch can improve your mental health, especially if there’s a wider range of native flowers, more birds, bees and pollinators visiting regularly.
You will also create a beautiful plaster of Paris tile using flowers from my cottage garden, enjoy a delicious lunch and take home a goody bag full of treats, creative ideas and seeds to help you to make your patch a haven for wildlife and an uplifting place for you.
*Our full bios below
Schedule for the day
9.00 arrive and drinks
9.30 Wildlife gardening workshop with Kate
Kate will take you round my cottage garden pointing out good examples of wildlife habitat, discussing flower shapes, native plants and the importance of these for pollinators. She’ll discuss how to provide shelter, food and water for wildlife in your garden and we’ll look for caterpillars. Kate will also use her spring bee hotel to demonstrate the life cycle of mason bees and we hope that leaf cutter bees will be nesting in my garden so we may be able to watch them harvesting and building. She will advise on types of bee hotel to make and/or buy, demonstrate how and where to install them and which plants are best to grow for bees and for wildlife in general.
11 Break for drinks
11.30 Talk from Emma about the benefits to mental health of gardening and contact with nature
I’ll explain what happens to several of our body systems after just minutes of being outside in a wood, park or in your garden and how this can really help to manage stress and lift mood on tricky days. I’ll also explain how making small seasonal collections and spotting birds and wildlife while you’re walking or through your window if you put food out for them can improve your mental health. While writing my book The Wild Remedy I collated all the latest research into this and the results are so compelling that the NHS has started to recommend nature walks to treat mental illness. We may do some very simple experiments using fitbits or Apple watches to demonstrate the effects of contact with plants on the human circulatory system.
Butterflies in Reach Wood
1.30 Nature walk with Kate and Emma in the wood behind our cottage (featured in several chapters of The Wild Remedy)
We’ll be looking for butterflies, bees, woodland and meadow flowers, seeking signs of wildlife activity and spotting birds. Reach Wood is managed by the Woodland Trust, has a meadow area and a wide range of mature native tree species. There are at least two species of orchid, muntjac deer, foxes, blackcaps, chiffchaffs, green woodpeckers, marbled white butterflies, several species of skipper, peacock, red admiral, painted lady, speckled wood, meadow browns, holly and common blue butterflies and a few years ago a nightingale sang in its trees.
While we walk around the wood you will begin to feel the beneficial effects that I will have described to you in my talk. The combination of time spent among trees, plants and wildlife and time spent creatively and eating cake will have a synergistic effect and our hope is that you will feel
3.00 Drinks and cake/biscuits
3.30 Botanical tile workshop
My craft workshops are focussed on using common plants and nature finds to make beautiful things to wear or for your home. We’ll be impressing flowers that I’ve grown in my garden into clay to make moulds, then using them to cast beautiful tiles using plaster of Paris. We may also have time to add colour to bring an extra dimension to your design. Your tile will capture a seasonal moment that will be uplifting on winter days and the results are intricate and very beautiful. Time spent creatively focusses the mind away from sources of stress and when you create something lovely the balance of neurotransmitters shifts in your mind. It is likely that you will feel calmer and possibly rather giddy after this session.
5.00 End of the day: goody bags and book signing
Everyone who attends will receive a bag hand-decorated by Emma containing tips on wildlife gardening and improving your mental health by spending time outside and the instructions for making botanical tiles. It will also contain seeds for growing bee and bird-friendly plants and a selection of other handmade treats and ideas to help you to encourage wildlife into your garden and benefit from making and spending time in nature.
Kate and I will be signing copies of our books.
Photo credit: Sarah Cuttle
Kate is an award-winning author and journalist, specialising in wildlife gardening. She edits the wildlife pages of BBC Gardeners World Magazine and regularly writes articles for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian, RHS magazine The Garden and BBC Wildlife and BBC Countryfile magazines. In 2015 she became the first Butterfly Ambassador for conservation charity Butterfly Conservation, and she writes a quarterly column for its members magazine, Butterfly. Kate regularly talks at events and festivals, and appears on radio including BBC Gardeners Question Time and the popular RHS gardening podcast. She also makes wildlife gardening videos for gardenersworld.com. She lives and breathes wildlife gardening, and is currently transforming a tired north-facing patio garden into a wildlife oasis, where she hopes to attract a wealth of creatures including frogs, toads, newts, birds, beetles, hedgehogs, butterflies, not to mention her very favourite, and first love: bees.
Emma is an author, craft designer and illustrator. She writes for the Guardian Country Diary, an exclusive extract of her book The Wild Remedy appeared in The Sunday Times magazine and she has written for BBC Countryfile, Mollie Makes, In the Moment & Breathe magazines. Emma has appeared on BBC Countryfile, Radio 4’s Ramblings, Woman’s Hour & several local BBC programmes discussing the benefits to mental health of both contact with nature and spending time creatively. Emma teaches silver casting and botanical drawing workshops at Highgrove and Daylesford Farm and has also passed on her creative skills at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Cambridge University’s Botanic Gardens. Emma will be speaking about the benefits to mental health of nature walks and gardening at several literary festivals during 2019. She uses her social media to speak openly about mental illness and ways in which it can be eased by cultivating a connection with nature which for many of us has been lost. Emma’s Instagram (@silverpebble2) has over 100,000 followers and she uses it to share her seasonal nature collections & drawings.