Updated: Aug 10, 2022
In this Summer 2022 blog we take you into the world of insects, share our experiences during a visit to a special, melodious exhibition, and we have a tasty recipe from a blog reader for you.
Since November 2020 we live in the countryside of Brittany, France. Through blogs we share our green lifestyle and experiences. If you would like to respond, ask a question or, like Inger, share a vegan recipe with us, you can do so via this link.
Insects adore our biodiverse garden
Lets talk about insects: let's BUZZ-talk! Have you noticed it too? In recent years you could drive your care without the windscreen getting smeared with insects. Twenty years ago you had to make stops to clean your windshield. That is no longer necessary. On a global scale, 40% of insects are threatened with extinction. In the Netherlands and Germany a loss of 70% of the insect population has already been recorded. A very worrying development because insects form a vital link in ecosystems and are invaluable for the pollination of all kinds of ornamental and utility plants. More than 40% of the production of the vegetables, fruit, grain and potatoes we eat depends on pollination by insects. Everything is connected. Insects are the 'canary in the mine', indicators of the health of our living environment and nature. Why are there fewer and fewer insects? The main causes are: habitat loss, urbanization and paving of gardens, large-scale monoculture farming using pesticide-soaked seeds and spraying insecticides on fields. The 'de-secting' is going fast, but with some good will the 're-secting' can also go quickly! We develop various biotopes with their own microclimate, allow some parts rewilding and we sow, plant and garden in an ecological and animal-friendly way so that the 'enriched nature' finds its own balance. Green living and green caring go hand in hand. In 18 months’ time, the variety and number of insects on our property has increased enormously. And with the insects there have come more toads, frogs, hedgehogs, birds, bats and other insect-eating animals. Most insects are not very picky about their choice of plants for their food / nectar. A long flowering season with a colorful mix of bulbous plants, wild and cultivated 'open' flowers promotes species diversity. Real BUZZers are the many wild and honey bees, and bumblebee species such as the Large Earth bumblebee with a white butt, the Red-tailed bumblebee and the Buff-tailed Bumblebee. Real eye catchers around and sometimes in our house are of course the butterflies and moths. One day we suddenly saw hummingbird butterflies on the flowers of the Verbena bonariensis. They kept coming for weeks. In the evening during our twilight walk with our dog Miep we regularly see and hear a stag beetle, beautiful! And bats skimming over our head, indicating an insect-rich environment. So far the positive BUZZ-talk, the 'happy-more-insects' news.
“If all people could become super happy with the sight of a tiny fly, how much better our world would look', the author sighs to her husband, after a day with a friend's insect viewer. His answer: 'Yes, you must have an interest outside of yourself. A serious interest. Then you will remain happy into old age.” From ‘A Year in the Garden of White Stork Farmhouse’ by Marijn O'Hanlon.
Wasps! A large colony of Wasps lives in an old mouse hole in our lawn. Very useful animals of course, but unfortunately they sting the inattentive lawnmower painfully. Furthermore, there are hornets (an XL wasp), bloodthirsty mosquitoes and gadflies, and Common House Flies that all have their uses but sometimes make our life quite itchy. But all that is part of co-existing with nature, which also offers so much joy and beauty. This summer we also regularly enjoy the Mayfly; graceful, fragile and vulnerable. And all that for at most a few days of frisky life. Well, aren't we all mayflies?
Anima (ex) Musica | bestiaire utopique
The exhibition Anima (ex) Musica | bestiaire utopique at La Roche Jagu brings musical instruments back to life by creating creatures inspired by arthropods from unused or broken ones. They are made mobile and imitate insects with their movements and vibrations. The insect world is also a world of sound and therefore each specimen has been given its own 'music'. Some soundbites. The beautiful exhibition makes us realize in a disturbing way that this bestiary utopique may be the only surviving insect world if we carry on as we used to.
“Arthropods alone represent 80% of living species and one in four animals is a beetle. Despite their sheer numbers, they are mostly ignored, rejected and reviled (with the exception of bees). They were here before us and will probably be here after we leave.” Text accompanying the exhibition ‘Anima (ex) Musica | bestiary utopia’
Rewilding step by step
The more than 1 hectare large farmland right next to our house lie fallow this year. Already there are growing and blooming; grasses, thistles, chamomile, wild roses, ferns, sorrel, tansy, knapweed, pygmy and so on. We have contacted the landowner, he appears to be a great nature lover just like us and concerned about the climate change, biodiversity loss and healthy future of the earth. Together we want to make a difference by creating a green oasis and 'save haven' in a naturalistic way with a fruit orchard, a solitary walnut tree, wild flower meadow and an ecological pool in the lower part of the field. So no more wheat or maize, but a serious attempt of rewilding. In our upcoming blogs, we'll take a closer look at this exciting new development and expansion of Ty-Vert. Stay tuned, and contribute in your own way to a healthy green future by participating in local rewilding initiatives, community gardening or just by planting insects friendly plants such as yarrow, catnip, autumn aster and single or semi double roses. We all benefit from a greener life and environment.
The book ‘De ontsloten tuin / The unlocked garden’ by Dennis Moet was nominated this summer for the René Pechère Prize 2021. A prize for the best Dutch-language book on gardening and landscape architecture. According to the jury report, "The book offers a very personal associative walk in text and image through garden design and art in the past and present, with philosophical reflections, knowledge, experiences and facts. The reader can be carried away in this private garden experience. The book is richly illustrated with own photos that give the publication added value as an art book. The layout and printing are very careful. According to some jury members, the most accessible book on the shortlist." Highly recommended for those who do not yet have the book and can read Dutch. The book can be ordered directly from Blauwdruk publishers. In addition Dennis is working on a new series of portraits of plants around Ty-Vert that show the 'wabi sabi' tactility and beauty of faded and dried flowers: see 'Floral'. Curious if the photo work appeals to you; reactions are more than welcome.
Fresh herbs and Eggplant flower
Our call to share tasty and healthy recipes here has had an effect. We got a recipe for a delicious eggplant spread from Inger from Holland, the ingredients for 4 people are:
1 large eggplant
1 white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
(smoked) paprika powder
salt and pepper to taste
some coriander or basil, parsley and chives
3 spring onions
Heat the oven to 220 degrees. Chop the onion coarsely. Cut the eggplant into 1.5 cm pieces. Mix in a baking dish with plenty of oil, the (smoked) paprika, salt and pepper. Let it cook and soften in the oven for about 45 minutes. Finely chop the coriander, parsley and chives. Cut the spring onion into rings.
Make a spread of the eggplant, onion, garlic, balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice in the food processor. Stir the herbs into the spread, checking for taste. Sprinkle the spread with the spring onion.
Delicious on fresh baguette or warm pita bread!
Bon appetite, and thank you Inger!
Suggestions and comments are welcome as always. See you again at the next Ty-Vert blog!
All the best and keep cool Erika and Dennis.