Kate Humble Goes Gardening

6a01156fa075f4970c0120a5b46c94970cNature loving writer and TV presenter Kate Humble, has fond memories of being brought up in the countryside.  “We lived next door to a farm and had a really chaotic garden,” she recalls.  “You couldn’t tell where the garden ended and where the farm began and I spent a lot of time in both.”

“Wildlife became part of my life, as I watched the birds enjoying the overgrown hedges and I eventually started to notice wildlife as an entity in its own right.

‘Even so, it was only when I went to Africa that I realised how much we take the things under our nose for granted.  I remember seeing a lilac breasted Roller (‘it’s a bird’, she responds to my query) for the first time and just thinking Oh my God, how beautiful.  Then we just saw more and more.”

The much-loved Spring Watch presenter confesses she wanted to be an actress when she was a child.  “I grew out of it before I was 17, but I still loved the stories that telly told.  So, I decided that I wanted to make the programmes rather than be in them.  I started by making tea, typing and doing research for all sorts of programmes, including Animal Hospital, which quickly became my favourite.  I got a job there as I was the only researcher with my own wellies,” she laughs.

It wasn’t long before Kate was offered a presenting position for a British Wildlife Series.  “I decided I could only present something if I really loved it,” she explains.  “The series started as ‘Wild in Your Garden’ and later became Spring Watch.  The increased interest in wildlife is amazing.  People are thinking about how they can do their bit, no matter whether they have a garden or not, which is fantastic.  You can have a bird feeder on the balcony of a high rise flat,” She adds passionately.  We can benefit as well as the wildlife – We all like flowers, and if we choose ones that bloom for a long time then there is more pollen for the insects as well as more colour for us.”

“I have just started keeping bees and I am already thinking, ‘I hope I’ve got enough food for them,’” She confides.

Kate is hesitant about her gardening abilities; “I’m definitely not an expert,  I’m more of a have a go gardener.” she explains cheerfully.  “We have a fabulous gardener called Carol Chambers, that holds my and Ludo’s (Kate’s husband) hand as we’re learning new things,” she laughs.  “We have got 4 and a half acres that the people that lived here before us, Ceri and Tom, turned into a garden. We owe them a huge thank you. They terraced the slopes, built dry stone walls and Ceri’s dad planted over 60 trees.”

“Though, we have planted 15 trees in the 18 months we’ve been here,” she adds proudly.  “We were overwhelmed by the responsibility of the garden when we arrived, but we are much more confident now and have made a veg garden and a huge wildlife pond that is already home to pond skaters, dragonflies and diving beetles.  We have even been brave enough to prune the apple trees,”  she laughs.

The fabulously enthusiastic and inspirational presenter concludes, “It doesn’t matter whether you only have a window box or a few tubs by the front door, you can still plant something that is beautiful to look at and that will also provide food for something; so plant something that’s brightly coloured and smelly that you can share with the wonderful wildlife!”

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