Plant an Apple Tree Today

Guest post by Dave Goulson

[Adapted from The Garden Jungle, to be published by Jonathan Cape in July 2019]

It was because of my love for cider that I discovered the joy of growing apples, and now apples have become something of an obsession for me. You might wonder what there is to get so excited about. The apple is perhaps the most commonplace and familiar of garden trees; many people have one and don’t even bother to pick the fruit, just allowing them to rot on the lawn (which is not such a bad thing – blackbirds and a host of insects will enjoy munching them right through autumn into early winter). To my eternal mystification, those same people may buy apples in plastic bags from their local supermarket, even while ripe fruit hangs on the tree in their garden.

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Magic in the Meadow – Field Notes during the Making of a Wildlife Documentary

Filming wildlife is both rewarding and challenging. To skilfully capture wildlife behaviour on camera in their habitat requires technical expertise and a great deal of patient observation. Occasionally the help of a field assistant is required who may have expertise of particular wildlife, or may be needed as an extra pair of eyes in the field. The first time I worked for Stephen de Vere in this role was for his second wildlife documentary: Return to the River: Diary of a Wildlife Cameraman

“An uncut meadow in June is perhaps one of
the most unsung wonders of the British countryside.
It is like a forest in miniature”

Stephen de Vere

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For the Love of Butterflies – A Poet Goes Wild Nearby

For the Love of Butterflies – A Poet Goes Wild Nearby

Guest post by Jonathan Bradley

Even though our beautiful butterflies are endangered by damage to our natural environment you can still enjoy their company, perhaps more than you think. They can give us lots of pleasure, and in my own case butterflies have caused me to write and publish a collection of poems inspired by them. It is called Papiliones, and the title means “butterflies” in Latin. You don’t need to be a scientist or environmental activist to feel passionate about butterflies. I am not an expert about the natural sciences, but I just love seeing them and writing about them. Read more

UPLAND – One Man’s Call for his Nearby Wild

UPLAND – One Man’s Call for his Nearby Wild

Guest post by Andrew Fusek Peters

Only a few minutes away from my house, the Shropshire Hills raise themselves up the sky where they encompass the two fragile and beautiful nature reserves of the Stiperstones and Long Mynd. My three years of work for Natural England and the National Trust have resulted in Upland, which I hope contains all the love I feel for these wild places. Read more

The Importance of Curlews: Dream Big

The Importance of Curlews: Dream Big

Guest post by Mary Colwell

I like the title of this blog – Nearby Wild, it succinctly describes what we all want – to have wildness in abundance on our doorstep, nosing in through the garden gate, fluttering around our shrubs, buzzing about the flowers, singing in the trees. I wish I were describing the reality of wild Britain, but this richness is mostly an aspiration as we have lost so much of our wildlife over the last 50 years.

But it is good to have dreams to work towards. Read more

How to Rescue a Goldcrest or Any Bird That Hits a Window

How to Rescue a Goldcrest or Any Bird That Hits a Window

Whilst working on the computer, I heard a thud on the window which sounded as though it may have been a bird. Much to my surprise a beautiful goldcrest was lying on the mini meadow on its front just beneath the sitting-room window with its small, olive-green wings spread out, dazed and motionless.

It was raining lightly and freezing cold which would not help it survive the shock of the impact. Read more

Why an Encounter With an Otter and Cubs in My Local Patch Was Extra Special!

Why an Encounter With an Otter and Cubs in My Local Patch Was Extra Special!

I had a gut feeling that I would see otters before setting out that morning into the otherworldly mist before dawn. But my head often questions whether my heart is right, so I wasn’t sure. About fifteen minutes after arriving at the lake, I saw an otter’s head emerge from its waters in a nearby bay. It was clearly a female by the size of the head. Read more

The Hill Above My House

The Hill Above My House

Guest post by Andrew Fusek Peters

Four years ago, when I was still working as a children’s author, if you had told me that I would hug nearby hedgelines, crawl through muddy fields, and stand in sad imitation of a tree in order to photograph hares, stoats and short eared owls, I would have laughed.

The hill above my village was for long walks, dreams, poetry, stops to chat to locals and enjoy the view over the Shropshire valleys I have lived in all my adult life. A breakdown and recovery from severe clinical depression in my mid forties changed everything. Read more

How to Save the Water Vole: A Neighbourly Guide

How to Save the Water Vole: A Neighbourly Guide

Thanks to my daughter, I was recently made aware of a water vole in a village pond one morning. Being passionate about water voles, I made my way there the same evening in great excitement. It would be my first pond vole, ever! On arrival, I immediately saw the tell-tale signs of a hidden water vole: vegetation periodically twitching as stems of Fool’s watercress were nipped by this invisible gardener. A few moments later, I glimpsed a small juvenile with its rich chestnut coat.

Eventually, a charming adult water vole with its round, chubby face appeared in full view. Read more

Overlooked Urban Nature: the Surprising History of Some Early Spring Flowers

Overlooked Urban Nature: the Surprising History of Some Early Spring Flowers

Guest post by Miles King of People Need Nature

Early spring is possibly my favourite time of year. Day by day, Nature comes back to life in front of us. For me, it lifts my spirits. Even in this most bizarre winter, when the winter didn’t look like it was going to arrive at all, but finally did so in early March. But of course as the sun gets ever stronger, the cold nights quickly disappear and beautiful warm sunshine greets me as I let the chickens out first thing in the morning.

Nature survives at the margins

Today I found a particularly pleasing, though very small, sign of spring – Whitlow grass (Erophila verna) flowering here in Dorchester. Read more