New book explores lockdown garden wildlife

Garden wildlife explored in new book

Garden wildlife explored in new book - Credit: Joe Gray

Inspiration has been found in unexpected places for many residents of St Albans during the rigours of lockdown.

For local conservationist and author Joe Gray, that inspiration has come from his small back garden in Fleetville. 

Joe has written a book which he describes the wildlife in his garden and links his encounters to broader themes such as sustainability and conservation. Thirteen Paces by Four is named to reflect the size of Joe’s garden. 

Joe’s book also explores the pre-history and history of the land on which St Albans stands today, as well as looking at locally relevant environmental issues, such as how we can improve the quality of the River Ver by reducing the amount we water our lawns. 

Joe explained: “A large part of my motivation for writing the book was to inspire other people to make their gardens more friendly for wildlife, even if their own parcel of land is, like mine, relatively small. I also wanted to show that, far for being an onerous task, gardening for wildlife is both fairly easy and a source of great joy. 


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“Before the pandemic, it had been a long time since people had focused so much on their local area, and with the potential mental health boost for us, and the many important benefits for wildlife, it’s such a great thing to do.

Garden wildlife explored in new book. 

Garden wildlife explored in new book. - Credit: Joe Gray

"Just a few simple steps – such as cutting out the use of pesticides and herbicides, digging a small pond, and creating a dead-wood pile– can make an amazing difference.

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“There are already some marvellous things going on in the area for garden wildlife such as the Wilderhood Watch initiative."

This is a project run in partnership with St Albans BID to make the city centre a more friendly place for bees and other pollinators, and included installing planters near the Clock Tower.

Joe added: "If enough people can do their bit, we can make St Albans into a great place for urban wildlife – a city that is buzzing with bees, one that offers a home for many birds, and one that is friendly to hedgehogs and all our other fellow residents.” 

Garden wildlife explored in new book

Garden wildlife explored in new book - Credit: Joe Gray

Thirteen Paces by Four is published by Dixi Books and can be purchased via various online retailers. All of Joe’s royalties as author of the book are being donated to the World Land Trust. 

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