Iolo Williams – how nature's helped us through

by Iolo Williams, 27th July 2020

Reflecting on the past few months, Iolo explores the flora and fauna in and around his own garden

To say it’s been a very strange few months would be a huge understatement. A global pandemic causing worldwide lockdowns, hundreds of thousands of deaths, mass unemployment and a struggling economy.

The one shining light – and the one thing that’s helped so many people through the most difficult time of their lives – has been the natural world.

I used the first few weeks of lockdown to revert to my childhood by wandering the quiet country lanes, woods and streams around my home, something I hadn’t had the opportunity to do since my late teens.

Every hedgerow was scrutinised for nesting birds and by mid-June, I’d found an impressive list of more than 50 nests. The majority were blackbirds, song thrushes, dunnocks and wrens, but there were also several longtailed tits, blackcaps, goldcrests and bullfinches along with a sparrowhawk and a couple of red kites.

It was a joy to have the time to watch spring unfold before my very eyes on my home patch as I’m usually chasing my tail all over the country. Lockdown also meant our local council didn’t cut the verges until early summer – and the effects on wildlife were dramatic. I’ve never seen such a dazzling show of spring flowers, with lesser celandines, primroses, dandelions and wood anemones slowly giving way to greater stitchwort, ground ivy and cow parsley.

With so many financial restrictions, I genuinely don’t understand why every council doesn’t delay cutting all but essential verges and roundabouts. It’s a win-win for wildlife, for us and for the council coffers.

The abundance of flowers and sunny weather encouraged invertebrates, with butterflies and bees to the fore. In early spring, queen bumblebees took advantage of the flowers in my garden, in particular the dandelions. Regarded by many as weeds, they’re packed full of pollen and nectar, and therefore provide vital early season food for so many pollinators.

Read Iolo's full column in the August issue of Welsh Border Life magazine.


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