Orchard, a year in England’s Eden was one of the most capturing books to be published in 2020.

A collaboration between two authors: Benedict Macdonald and Nicholas Gates. Both are naturalists, both have penned articles for top rate environmental publications including National Geographic and both have created content for BBC and ITV including David Attenborough’s  Our Planet.

In parallel this book is also a collaboration of literary styles. Where fiction meets factual content. The pleasure, passionate language and winding narrative of literary fiction used to articulate the evolution of nature through the Orchard. Where to place it on the book shelf? Unsure, so were all the major booksellers. Anywhere from science and technology to gardening, wildlife to birdwatching. 

A third collaboration is present, the partnership between man and nature. The Orchard is unravelled through the course of a year. We have home building and nesting through the plethora of life during the summer months. Penultimately, the endeavours of harvest, concluding with hibernation and return of the harshest of climates.

Some Quotes

It projects with its boughs, an ark of animals now almost impossible to find living side by side elsewhere in our dying countryside.
(Also refers to religion and environment)

A disused farm gate, bound by twine and locked by ivy.

Beast from the East
(Reference to UK storm of 2018)

Molehill: the newly erected earthen pyramid.

Blackbird gangs

The orchards’ fungal and beetle armies have already colonised this new barracks.

(Previously animated for the classic Bedknobs and broomsticks)

Ancestral hedge-lines

Goats willow

Oaks bubble with resurgent leaves. Their crushed, dead skeletons transform into chlorophyll cathedrals.

Spotted flycatcher (Bird)

Hover flies

Rhinoceros beetles are unmistakable. With a single horn this metallic black beetle looks like a tiny triceration dinosaur. As they bulldoze their way into pea sized breeding tunnels to lay their own eggs.


Male stag beetle, size of a matchbox

Black veined whites (Butterflies)

Horse shoe bats

Elephant hawk moths

The damage of the snail army is hard to detect. Here in the orcharch, snails are slow moving refugees.

Sawflies- Saw like genitalia are used to cut through leaves.

Chiffchaff next

Sex-crazed wood pigeons

When spider webs unite, they can tie down a lion. (African Proverb)

Crane fly

Leather jackets (crane fly larvae)

I follow the fresh crane flies as they clumsily bounce off anything and everything, accompanied by the sound of autumnal apple leaves decaying, grass seed stalks whispering in the light night breeze.

But now, the walnut orb spider brazenly waits out in the open poised at the centre of her silken telephone; eight legs listening alert. Her abdomen is stencilled with ribbed pattern of a perfectly symmetrical.

To attract a lady, male walnut orb weavers strut their stuff with some impressive dance moves. His routine starts with percussion: raising both her front legs in the air and frequently drumming her web to signal his arrival.

Green fanged tube web spider

The cider house donkey of Yore

Leave them to sweat (Apples)

Cuckoo haunted willow.

The bees argue in their black ball. A flying hedgehog, all prickles. (Quoted from Sylvia Plath)

Nest raiding jays

In a salmon coloured flash it (Jay) bounds across the golden apple carpet.

It has been found that ivy creates a thermal blanket, its shiny leaves insulating its internal reaches against the cold.

Ivy bees

If one plant wired into the orchards fungal broadband, the others, will immediatly begin their chemical release.

Fungal morse code system of enormous complexity.

Glouster Old Spot- the orchards pig.

Published in August 2020 during the first summer of the pandemic. A period when many had begun to rediscover nature during our governed one hour of exercise. Staycations were the norm while much of international travel was put on hold. 

A worthy winner of the Jefferies Society and White Horse’ book prize for nature writing. A book which does not simply enable engagement with nature: it emerces you deeply into the natural undergrowth of Herefords finest ancient Orchard.

2 Years

Easter marks two years of Dave’s passing, an early victim of covid 19. Alison, his partner writes this poem to mark the occasion.

2 years

2 years since our last handclasp

2 years of pandemic passed

2 years, your death broadcast

2 years, of living steadfast

===News Flash===

Russia invaded Ukraine

Putin’ dictators brain

Claims of being insane

World War 3? to ascertain

Ukrainians stood hearty strong

Maripol, besieged month long

Kieve fought, Russia retreated hourlong

Mines left in corpses, the Slavic song

===Sports News===

Details of the footy, you await

LFC on top, but don’t inflate

Man City may accelerate

Chelsea not far, a little belate’

Outcry, with my blue team!

Abramovitch’ metal, Russian tanks gleam

Oligarch wealth extracted, the bloodstream

Chelsea, for sale, the Bridge beam’

Gerrard gains, Villa mid table

Lamps for Everton, not the same fable

Religation, sat above, unstable

Form, quite directly: abysmal

===Home News===

Myself, retraining Media City

Daily zoom sessions, the web community

Match of the Day filmed hyper activity

Shakespeare North, applying, locality

A family of rodents took up house!

I screamed, in scurried a mouse

Could not call you from the alehouse

Austin patrolled, you amiss, my spouse

1 caught, adhered to a board

Then a second explored

Another 2 same fate award’

1 remained, not the same accord

Front bedroom trapped

Ambush spring bound, baited

Bait taken, the vermin lapped

Poison dispose as it napped

A week, still taking, metallic spoils

Then, no more did it coil

Over was our toil

No longer sleeping in turmoil

2 years apart

Some ways, a new start

Remain top of my heart

Love, no need a jumpstart!

Alison Little