I have written previously about how winter leaves gifts behind, although spring and summer are seen as seasons when we have more gifts from nature. I made this gift for my colleagues at work using leaves and dried flowers that I was going to put into the compost heap. It was easy to do and looks quite good I think. I had all the stuff at home including the vase and the sponge base, so it is a zero waste zero price gift!
This is spring time in the UK and we can hear birds flying, chirping and building nests. Walking under a tree, I heard the sounds of baby magpies hidden somewhere while I watched the anxious parents bring food to them. Birds are amongst the non humans who actually build homes for their young ones. Many birds are expert builders (and don’t seem to need any training!), and some are experts at repurposing holes, ledges, and parts of buildings for their nests. As an architect, I first learnt about non human architecture from this book many years ago-
A weaver bird’s nest from South India (credit: wikimedia commons)
But these days, given our penchant for weeding and tidying gardens straight after winter, our non human friend have nothing to build nests with, especially in cities. This year, I have been very busy finishing a book and had forgotten to ‘tidy up’ my patio. It was full of dead plants and I felt very embarrassed about how it was looking. But one day, raising my head, I saw two magpies busy pulling at my dried plants and branches and fly off with a beak-full. Next, I saw a little robin that has become a regular, taking little branches and stems for its own nest. I have also had a thrush coming by to pick up building materials. Ahh, I realised, my patio was actually being useful, even though it looked a state!
my untidy patio with metal robin
Seeing these birds has been such a delight and given me another reason not to tidy up so soon. Along with the nest building materials, they have taken away weeds, cleared up spider’s webs and eaten some slugs- saving me some work. I never knew how useful birds are to the canny gardener. Make sure you keep some of these materials to attract birds into your garden and help them build their nests in the spring-
Things that birds could use
Twigs or sticks
Grass clippings or dead grass
Moss or lichen
Pebbles or small rocks (not the ones in the photo though!)
Spider web silk
Straw or other dried plant stems
Do keep some water for these thirsty parents too!
PS- As these birds tend to be wary of humans, I tried but couldn’t take a photo!