Gardening for wildlife: human-nature interaction at home

by Fiona Ferbrache

Last week brought us the first day of spring, as well as some sunny and warmer weather.  It is likely that many of us will be spending more time in our gardens again, particularly as flowers and blossom colourfully emerge, the grass requires cutting again, and a variety of wildlife returns after the winter.  The RSPB warns us “don’t miss the sounds of woodpeckers this month” and has advice on how to “bring spring to your doorstep” by turning your garden, window box or patio into a home for wildlife (Thomas, 2011).

This is the time of year when many of us reconnect with the outdoors, and often become more aware of nature as it appears to burst into life after winter.  It is thus fitting that one of Area’s early view articles has a paper on gardens as sites for interaction with nature, with a specific focus on birdwatching (Cammack et al. forthcoming).  This paper illustrates how human activity and non-human presence combine to modify everyday environments by drawing upon research that explores how birdwatching occurs in gardens.  The garden, in the article, is represented as a hybrid place where the types of activity taking place are framed by particular understandings of ‘nature’.  Cammack et al. (p.5) illustrate how a collaborative relationship exists between (different) humans and (different) birds where the latter encourage some people to modify their gardens to certain extents.  Adopting the same phrase as the RSPB, the authors argue that “gardening for wildlife” is, for some garden owners, a reflective process intertwining ‘nature’ and gardening.  However, they also conclude that there remains a need for further analysis of the everyday practices of people in their gardens.

Cammack, P.J., Convery, I. and Prince, H. (forthcoming) Gardens and birdwatching: recreation, environmental management and human–nature. Area.

RSPB (2011)  Online

Thomas, A. (2011) Gardening for Wildlife.  RSPB. Online Accessed Friday, 25 March, 2011.

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