Author interview – Dave Goulson

Dave Goulson is a Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex and nature writer, with a particular passion for bees. Bee Quest and A Buzz in the Meadow were bestsellers, and his latest book, The Garden Jungle is all about the wildlife that lives with us: in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet – an insight into the the wildlife that lives right under our noses.

 

Dave visited NHBS to meet the team and sign a few copies (now sold out) of The Garden Jungle.   He also answered a few questions about the inspiration behind his new book and his hopes and ambitions for the gardens of Britain.

 

  1. How did your interest in the natural world begin?

I’ve no idea! I have been somewhat obsessed by wildlife, particularly by insects, for as long as I can remember. When I was only five or six years old I remember collecting cinnabar caterpillars from the weeds on the edge of my school playground and rearing them up on my bedroom windowsill in jam jars. I never grew out of my interest, and have been lucky enough to find a way to make a living out of it.

2. Could you tell us a little about the research that went into writing The Garden Jungle?

I’ve been both gardening and studying insects for all of my adult life. The two go hand in hand, for if you grow the right plants, and garden in the right way, you can attract all sorts of insects to your garden. I’ve often done my scientific experiments from home, for example studying bee behaviour and the flowers that they choose. I also try out many of the techniques that are said to help wildlife for myself; my garden is full of more than twenty homemade bee hotels, two ponds, nine compost heaps, four or five log piles, a wildflower meadow area, half a dozen ‘hoverfly lagoons’ and more.

3. What fauna and flora gives you the most pleasure to see in your garden?

It is hard to beat the excitement of seeing the first brimstone butterfly of the year, a flash of bright yellow usually seen on the first warm day in late February or March, a sure sign that spring is coming. But bees are my real obsession, particularly bumblebees, colourful, furry, and endearingly clumsy insects that bring the flower borders to life with their buzzing activity.

4. Are you a keen gardener yourself?

I love gardening. When I’m not at work or asleep, I am somewhere in my two acre garden in the Sussex Weald, growing veg, fruit and flowers, and looking after the birds and the bees. It is my own little piece of heaven.

5. Have there been any changes over the past fifty years – either for the benefit or to the detriment of wildlife in the way people view their gardens?

There has certainly been a great increase in interest in encouraging wildlife into our gardens, for example via bird feeders, tit boxes, bee hotels and by planting bee-friendly flowers. Many of us believe that gardens can be places where people and nature live in harmony. On the other hand there have been many detrimental changes too; Astroturf lawns, decking, hard paving, and a huge increase in the number of chemicals available for use. Gardening has become big business; nowadays many people’s idea of gardening is to drive to some vast garden centre and fill the back of their car with annual bedding plants grown in peat-based composts, drenched in pesticides and sold in disposable plastic pots. There is nothing green about that approach to gardening.

6. If someone wanted to link gardens together for the benefit of wildlife, what would be your advice to enlist the neighbourhood’s cooperation?

Often the best way to convince people to change is to show them the alternative. If your garden is wildlife-friendly, invite your neighbours round for a coffee and show them the butterflies nectaring on flowers, the bees busy stocking their bee hotel, and the flowers in your not-too-tightly-mowed lawn. Offer them some seeds or cuttings of bee-friendly flowers; I give comfrey roots to anyone willing to grow them, it is one of the very best plants for bumblebees and I’m trying to encourage everyone to have a clump of it somewhere.

7. Do you have any new projects in the pipeline that you’d like to tell us about?

With colleagues at Sussex University I recently launched the Buzz Club, a nationwide organisation which is working with the public to do experiments to test interventions for garden wildlife. For example, we are asking people to test out creating a ‘hoverfly lagoon’, miniature ponds intended to provide homes for the offspring of some types of hoverfly. Find out more here: https://www.thebuzzclub.uk/.

Signed copies

A very limited number of The Garden Jungle, signed by Dave Gouslon are available from NHBS. *Signed copies are now sold out*

 

 

The Garden Jungle
Hardback | July 2019| £14.99 £16.99

The wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet.

 

Discover other titles by Dave Goulson, on special offer until the end of August 2019

Bee Quest
Paperback | April 2018
An endearing account of the search for rare bees. – The Observer £7.99 £9.99

 

A Buzz in the Meadow
Paperback | April 2015
A fascinating look at the insect world found in one field in France – NHBS
£7.99 £9.99

A Sting in the Tale
Paperback | April 2014
A very readable introduction to the remarkable world of bees and bee conservation. – Good Book Guide
£7.99 £9.99

All prices correct at the time of publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popular Titles on Climate Change

 

There has been a wealth of climate change-based publications in recent times reflecting the growing urgency of this issue. In this blog post, we present a selection of thought-provoking titles on climate change, from handbooks for how we should proceed into the future, to how climate change has and may impact biodiversity on a more local scale

 

There Is No Planet B: A Handbook for the Make or Break Years
Paperback | Feb 2019| £8.99 £16.99
What we can do about climate change, laid out in an accessible and entertaining way, filled with astonishing statistics and analysis.

 

The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future
Hardback | Feb 2019| £16.99 £20.99
An alarming discussion into the far-reaching effects of climate change on the Human population.

 

Climate Change and British Wildlife
Hardback | Oct 2018| £29.99 £34.99
A thoroughly researched and timely account of climate change in the British Isles.

 

Achieving the Paris Climate Agreement Goals
Hardback | Feb 2019| £37.99 £44.99
A detailed book presenting the pathways to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050, globally and across ten geographical regions.

 

The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene
Hardback | June 2018| £8.99
Tracing our environmental impact the authors show what the new epoch means for the future of humanity and the planet.

 

The Wizard and the Prophet: Science and the Future of Our Planet
Paperback | Jan 2019| £12.99
This deeply researched book portrays the intellectual legacy of two environmental pioneers and their crucial influence on today’s debates.

Biodiversity and Climate Change: Transforming the Biosphere
Paperback | Feb 2019 | 29.99
This comprehensive volume captures the sweep of climate change influences on the biosphere.

 

Green and Prosperous Land: A Blueprint for Rescuing the British Countryside
Hardback | March 2019 | £13.99 £16.99
An economist’s approach to environmentalism, including a summary of Britain’s green assets and an achievable 25-year plan to a green and prosperous world.

 

Oceans in Decline
Paperback | March 2019 | £19.99 £22.99
This book identifies and describes the changes occurring in all marine ecosystems, and discusses the long-passed state of equilibrium

 

All prices in this article are correct at the time of posting (February 2019)

You can also browse our full range of climate change books on our website.