The Bumblebee Flies Anyway: A memoir of love, loss and muddy hands

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway: A memoir of love, loss and muddy hands by Kate Bradbury

By Kate Bradbury

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12 reviews


31 Oct 2018


The Bumblebee flies anyway
Kate Bradbury

Kate is passionate about wildlife-friendly gardening. In fact she is something of a campaigner in this field and writes about it for a living. At a low point in her life she finds herself with no home and no garden and she is not coping well. She eventually settles in a new home in Brighton with a tiny garden that has been razed to the ground, covered in decking and then neglected. This book is the story of how she brings this garden back to life through two years of sheer hard work and determination, providing a sanctuary for numerous species of wildlife.

I loved this book, although it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. I read the first few pages with an impending sense of doom. I thought it was going to be a dry, boring book about gardening and I hate gardening. After forcing myself to continue, and anticipating a very hard, unenjoyable slog I gradually came to the realisation that I was only right on one count - the book is basically about gardening. Dry and boring it certainly is not. I became utterly captivated by it. The writing style is unusual as it is almost written in diary form, sometimes interspersing brief comments and very short sentences into the narrative. It is a very gentle book and, in reality, nothing much actually happens yet it is somehow completely gripping. And I learnt so much. I learnt that there are three phases of dawn, each with its own technical name. I learnt that there about 250 species of bee in the UK and about 25 species of bumblebee – I thought there were just one of each. And most importantly I learnt how important it is for us, as humans, to create habitats for the wildlife that we are systematically destroying by demolishing the spaces that they have as much right to live in as we do.

The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the intertwined story of Kate’s mother’s very serious illness. In a sense it was relevant as it happened during the two years that Kate was nurturing her new garden and meant that she was trying to juggle two very time-consuming activities. However, I felt it did detract in some way from the story of the garden, which was the reason the book had been written.

It is testament to this author’s writing ability that she wrote a book about gardening, one of my pet hates, yet managed to enchant me. I think nearly everyone would enjoy this book and I think all of us could learn something from it.

19 Sep 2018

St Regulus AJ

This book is a delight. How a small derelict and sad back garden in Brighton was gradually brought back to life and becomes a haven for wildlife. The reader will have a joyous read and see their own garden in a different light

06 Sep 2018


This is a intriguing book with Kate sharing her meticulous observations of birds and bugs while also describing painfully her experiences, anxiety and fears with dealing with her mothers sudden stroke.
It has inspired me to research bees, and to do more for wild life in my garden. It was a joy learning about the private lives of so many different bees. She radiates determination and energy for helping our wildlife.
This is a book I will be giving to close friends who share a love of and fascination with our beautiful wildlife, be it birds or bugs we are so privileged to share our gardens with.

04 Sep 2018


This was given to our book group (Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock) to read and review as an ‘extra’ in addition to one of our monthly titles. On seeing the title and initial strap-line I was dubious as to whether it was ‘my thing’ and assumed I would be wading through the pages for the sake of book group, rather than because I really wanted to.

How wrong was I?! This book is utterly charming and I was captivated from the start. The book is written, or reads anyway, like a diary or journal and this makes the reader feel very engaged with Kate and her story of rescuing a small urban garden from the clutches of modern day convenience and concrete and letting nature - and herself - breathe, feel rejuvenated and alive.

I couldn’t wait to turn the pages and travel through the months to find out how the sparrows, starlings and bees fared. Kate, her garden, the wildlife, birds, bees and plants all felt like friends at the end. The book is very inspirational and makes one realise how important it is to reduce the endless urbanisation of our green and pleasant land.

31 Aug 2018


The Bumblebee Flies Anyway is an unusual account of the bringing back to life of a small urban garden. It is a quiet, interesting, observant book which gave me new insights into the insect and animal world, bees and butterflies in particular.
The author's knowledge of nature, passed down by her grandmother, and her mother's illness combine to make a strand that weaves through the ongoing labour in her garden. The book invites you into Kate's special place, with the hard graft, disappointments and joy of creating afresh an environment for wildlife.
I loved it.

28 Aug 2018


Read through the Preschool Parents' bookclub. This book is beautifully written, highlighting the joy of everyday urban nature and its importance. I would recommend this book to everyone.

27 Aug 2018


The Bumblebee Flies Anyway

I enjoyed the book - it was interesting to discover new things about the natural world, particularly about bees and the different stages of twilight. Kate Bradbury worked hard and showed great enthusiasm for her garden and made readers aware of how important it is to preserve our natural heritage and not remove as much from our environment as we are doing at present, thus denying birds, insects and animals their natural habitat. I would recommend this book, particularly to those who I know would enjoy such an interesting book about gardening and wildlife.

26 Aug 2018


I loved this book from the beginning both as a keen gardener and someone who would welcome more insect wildlife into her garden, so many helpful tips given.
The passion for Kate’s subject is equalled by her search for a contented life where personal happiness and nature co-exist. She writes with such honesty allowing us to share the heartbreaking moments in her life and is deeply sincere and open.
I learnt so much about the bumblebee, about plants to attract the insects in order to keep the circle of life turning within our own gardens and lives. Her observations of birds and creatures is detailed. I watch out of my window for minutes with interest whereas she spends hours in order to gain a deeper understanding of the world.
I shall share this book with friends and family in the hope that a few more gardens will gain a corner, at least, for wildlife.

The Three Horseshoes Reading Group

23 Aug 2018


Read with the Three Horseshoes Reading Group.

This book opened my eyes to the impact of modern 'gardening' on our environment and our wildlife. I thought that I was quite aware on this topic but the sheer loss of habitat described in Kate Bradbury's book shocked me. The lack of interest in preserving our natural environment is worrying as we all need the Bumblebee to survive ourselves.

Kate's dedication to her garden and its resurrection is awesome. I am not a natural gardener and have had to learn slowly to resurrect my own garden from a bramble wilderness.. a different problem and one I was less well equipped to deal with. However I did find the amount of detail in the book overwhelming at times. I also felt that Kate seemed so pessimistic about outcomes which often were eventually really uplifting.

Her personal journey as related throughout the book seemed so lonely at times and added to the sadness in the work so I was left wondering about her personal recovery as opposed to that of the garden.

Overall I enjoyed the book and have already decided who I will buy a copy for.

Jenny Malyon
Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock

22 Aug 2018


I loved this book for the hope it brings and for highlighting the follies of 'easy gardening' by illustrating the affect that this can have on us and what can happen when a garden covered in decking is brought back to life.

As the book progresses we see the natural beauty that ensues when sterile environments are replaced with plants suited to native wildlife. It serves as both a warning of the damage that can be so easily be done and a wonderful example of how each one of us can help to restore habitats for wildlife which can become life-affirming for people, too.

This book opened my eyes to what we can easily seen in our own gardens. I would love to see an illustrated version of this book.

09 Aug 2018


This is a charming memoir about a woman's year of gardening and life. Kate takes on the project of transforming her decked and wrecked back yard when she moves into a new place in Brighton, UK. The story is warm and rich and funny. In parts there is tragedy, but the garden story always continues.

This book is about transformation, hope and information. It made me stop and think about what I am doing in my own garden. She breathes life into the insects and bees and birds that live in all our patches of land.

The writing is wonderful and gentle and draws you in to reading more. It is tender in parts and kind-hearted in others. I enjoyed reading this book very much. It gives new meaning to the creatures in our gardens and green spaces.

21 Jul 2018

I loved this book. Sensitively written and yes with an underlying message about how we are treating our planet and the creatures who share it with us, often limiting these without consideration/awareness. However that said the message was not aggressively placed in the description of the rescue and emergence of a space filled with vibrancy and passion. Wonderful snippets of insight into the life of the author which prompted thought. As a direct I have become much more conscious of the wildlife I brush against in my own garden and I have a yearning for a bee hotel - or two... This stimulated in me a wonder at the return of species and how seamlessly this can occur if only we can learn to accommodate them. A synonym perhaps? At one point in the uncovering of this garden I recognised that in my own life, during difficult times, I had unwittingly disconnected from nature. I felt as if in so doing I had indeed cemented over my heart. A little gem of a book bursting with passion, and a delightful honesty, that I would heartily recommend to even the most jaded.

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