Birds and bees 'secret weapons' to raising happiness levels
We're aiming to raise happiness levels by introducing the birds and the bees to households nationwide.
Studies have shown that using bird feeders and growing wildflowers increases people's connection to nature, leading to feelings of wellness.
Using our combination of wildflower and bird expertise, Connecting To Nature.ie will enable people to give a post-lockdown gift of wellness to loved ones by creating a curated native flower and bird feeding oasis in spaces as small as an apartment balcony.
You don’t have to be in the countryside to connect with nature, all you have to do is create an environment that consistently attracts birds and bees.
After lockdown, we now have a new awareness of the mental health benefits of connecting to nature, a renewed interest in our living world and improving our gardens for the benefit and love of wildlife.
However, many people are unaware of the correct way to successfully cultivate a wild garden, or that you need to feed birds year-round and that they need different food at different times.
Social media has allowed our community to connect and share how they have been enjoying and connecting with nature at home, at work and in the community.
Sowing wildflower seeds provides a habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, seeds for wild birds, supports biodiversity, and brings us joy.
I have a passion for the environment and I saw this as an opportunity to share how wildflower seeds can play their part in biodiversity and reveal the joy of native wildflowers in our ecosystem. We produce our seeds on our own sites in Faithlegg, Co Waterford, and our mixtures are curated to provide both food for wildlife and colour throughout the year.
It is very easy to get this right, with a bit of instruction. Through our platforms we aim to educate people on how to very simply sow and cultivate the gardens that they want.
Studies have shown that greater bird biodiversity can make people more joyful. The World Economic Forum has published research that the happiest Europeans are those who see the most bird species in their day-to-day life.
Being connected with nature is about feeling close to the wider natural world. Research shows that being connected with – rather than simply being exposed to – nature is more important for our mental wellbeing.
Feeding birds is a very good way of feeling closer to nature and bringing wildlife closer to you, and Ireland has a wonderful array of small wild birds that you can feed. This will be particularly important this year for birds such as the Blue Tit after the very cold and dry spring that we had this year. The weather meant that plants and trees started growing very late and everything was about two weeks behind where they should have been. However, the Blue Tit nested at the normal time and when the chicks hatched, there was nothing to feed them because the oak trees produced leaves later and the moths, which feed on those leaves, were also late.
Connecting to Nature specialises in different types of food depending on the time of year, so that now, as we are heading into autumn and winter, Patrick recommends a good varied feed mixture including peanut and suet-based products, such as suet covered oat flakes, the High Energy, No Mess Mix is an excellent choice! The birds’ diet is changing from one that is predominately insects to now eating more seeds and fruit and our range reflects that at this time of year.
Alan and Margaret Kavanagh from Saggart, Co Dublin.
I bought a packet of seeds back in May and it was a mixture of all different flowers, like an idyllic country garden. I've never done this before. I had a small garden in Rathfarnham when I lived there with just grass – but if I knew then what I know now, I would have sown these wild flowers everywhere. They are just beautiful and they have brightened the whole place up. It is unbelievable.
I had not seen butterflies and bumblebees in a long time and now they are in abundance. It has brightened everybody's mood as well. You cannot help but smile when you walk into the garden – it just lifts your spirits.
Every morning we open the door and look out at the flowers, and every day they are amazing. I’m only raging I didn’t do it when I was younger – just don’t ask me to tell you the Latin names for them!”
Claire Arnold of Lennox Street Grocer in Dublin’s Portobello sells the seeds in the shop, and noticed that often, people like to give them as gifts.
“My mum planted them in window planters for us, because we’re in an apartment above the shop and we enjoyed watching them grow, seeing the different flowers and colours emerging. We found that people would comment on them, because they were visible on the window ledge and as they passed, they would say that they noticed them and that they thought looked really nice.
They are ideal in the city if you do want to do something but you don’t have a garden or opportunity to do it.
People also seem to appreciate them because it is so important to have actual native seeds – that seems to be important for those who are interested and knowledgeable on bees and biodiversity. It becomes a talking point for people who are interested in creating mini habitats – even a window box is enough.
Seeing birds in my garden puts my existence into perspective. Their visits remind me that humans should exist to protect other species too. I love feeding the birds and providing them with a safe environment. It’s a win, win, win situation!
See connectingtonature.ie for more details.