Worms have more purpose than Tim, and a better love life. They break waste down into rich fertile soil; Tim just makes the rich richer. Worms copulate for three hours at a time whereas the closest thing Tim has to love is his lesbian friend Jo. Salvation comes from Jo’s flaky niece Charlotte who asks him three profound questions. Inspired, he sheds his old life to become Habitat Man, giving advice on how to turn gardens into habitats for wildlife. Each new garden offers unique challenges, from Dawn the polyamorist who wants hedgehogs (and Tim) to the Wizard of Woolston wanting a habitat for bats and frogs. But the biggest challenge is Tim’s first client, the lovely Lori. Tim is smitten, but first he has to win round Ethan her 15 year old son. Tim loves his new life until he digs up more than he bargained for, something that threatens to bring out all the skeletons in his cupboard. Only Jo, Tim’s long-time best friend knows his secret, but can she be trusted?
This is dedicated to the real Habitat Man (he knows who he is) who works tirelessly and at no charge to offer assistance to the undervalued nematodes, beetles, worms, springtails and micro-organisms that are the building blocks of life.
A delightful number of incidents presented in this book are true (ish), and characters are definitely based on people I know or have known, but attributes have been shuffled and reallocated across the characters, so anyone who guesses who exactly is who in the right combination can send their answers to me and get a prize. The issues covered though are definitely real.
This book was inspired by the real life Green Garden Consultancy that started in Southampton in November 2019 and is managed by Transition, Southampton. I am particularly indebted to Kevin who advised me and sent me details of some of the gardens he visited (with the owners’ permission).
Particular thanks go to Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex, whose numerous books, including The Garden Jungle: or Gardening to Save the Planet provided great source material. Dave generously offered his help with the manuscript, especially the nature bits, reading through, checking for accuracy, and writing the occasional lyrical passage himself.
Gratitude is also extended to Rosie from the Natural Death Centre who freely gave her time to tell me about the environmental benefits of natural burials and the legal issues surrounding home burial. Also to Chris and Debs, a couple of house boaters with a healthy obsession with death, nature and music who inspired sections of this book.
In the process of writing this story, I’ve found that people who love nature and the environment tend to be lovely people and Dave, Kevin, Rosie, Chris and Debs illustrate this beautifully.
I also thank the Wizards and Witches from Southampton Pagan Moot for helping me with my research. Rest assured the Wizard of Woolston is not based upon any of you, although you may recognise the odd quote!
Thanks to Alex T a fellow greeny who alerted me to the tantalising concept of cryptofeminism and another Alex, the guerrilla gardener who risked a socially distant meeting to tell me of their secret exploits.
I am also indebted to Heather Conway, an expert on death law and Gary Leonard a consultant solicitor who were both kind enough to help with legal research, although I confess that plot needs have triumphed over legal accuracy, especially with regard to timescale.
Last but not least, thanks go to my partner Chris who was brave enough to tell me my first draft was rubbish, and by the final draft delighted me with several LOLs and a surreptitious tear.
- I have been inspired by new eco-friendly innovations and confess to having my very own extremely stylish Strumpet and Trollop composting toilet in my back garden (great for BBQs), and I can vouch for that fact it looks great and doesn’t smell or attract flies, and produces good compost.
- The Share Shop is modelled on the many Libraries of Things that are popping up.
- When I asked myself what car Tim would drive, I was inspired by the new alternatives to car ownership springing up all over, such as Hiya Car, Zipcar, Getaround, Liftshare and Bla bla car amongst others, and so decided he’d borrow Jo’s car.
- I rely a lot on Ethical Consumer magazine and website to alert me to the credentials of products and services – especially those the manufacturers don’t choose to display on their websites!
- I also subscribe to Positive News – it’s a must to remind myself that there is hope, lots of it and keep me up to date with all the wonderful projects going on around the world.
- If you try any of these out and they ask you where you heard of them, please do say from the book Habitat Man.
Watch this space!