You treat this house like a hotel! A bug hotel.

Do you ever find yourself acting like your mum, maybe even repeating the exact same phrases she used to use? I know I do, but that one about “treating the house like a hotel” I haven’t uttered yet. Inspired by a visit to Chelsea Flower Show 2015 here’s how to let the little ones make their own bug hotel. More good ideas in Homemade Kids: how to raise children in a thrifty, creative and eco-friendly way author Nicola Baird. Feedback welcome!

Garden sculpture made from driftwood and found wood - this lovely mother and foal had a £33,000 price tag at Chelsea RHS flower show. The use of sticks inspired me...

Garden sculpture made from driftwood and found wood – this lovely mother and foal had a £33,000 price tag at Chelsea RHS flower show. The use of sticks inspired me…

“You treat this house like a hotel!” was something my parents often said to me. And it must have felt like that for them – I was the eldest of their three children, away at boarding school from 11 years, out of the country for half a year out, and then away at university. All that time they kept a bedroom for me, with all my stuff in it, and then I’d come home for the half term or holidays and be exhausted and no doubt teenager sulky.

My own teenagers don’t treat their home like a hotel, but they do keep increasingly odd hours… The 16-year-old was back at 7am this morning and will no doubt need to sleep into the afternoon. The 14-year-old, worn out by hobby tests and a half term of increasing school pressure, was exceedingly hard to coax out of her bed before noon. As an early riser I find this particularly difficult to plan around, and so I’m trying to learn to ignore the smell of breakfast toast when I’m ready for lunch, or even tea.

Stuck this morning with no child to entertain I decided to sort out other projects to make my home a better place to be. Last week I spent a couple of hours helping out on the FSC-UK stall at Chelsea Flower Show, designed by the super-talented Kirsti Davies. This was a lovely forest garden, in a tiny space, complete with gazebo where us stall operators had the occasional restorative sit-down.

20150524_130201FSC – the Forest Stewardship Council – is an amazing organisation that helps to take care of forests and th people and wildlife who call them home.

Executive Director of FSC-UK, Rosie Teasdale, at the show. The strange foreleaf is in fact from a whitebeam tree (perspective here makes it look a bit like a banana). The bug hotel was to the left of the impressive FSC display board.

Executive Director of FSC-UK, Rosie Teasdale, at the show. The strange foreleaf is in fact from a whitebeam tree (perspective here makes it look a bit like a banana). The bug hotel was to the left of the impressive FSC display board.

FSC’s Chelsea garden won a silver medal – amazing. But it was also utterly of the moment, a very natural looking space that when you enter, immediately makes you calm, and of course it is extremely wildlife friendly and sustainable. All the wood products on display – from the plant labels to the posh triangular bug hotel – were certified as coming from FSC-certified timber. In our home the FSC logo is as well known a brand for the kids as Kit-Kat, Peppa Pig (actually my girls are the Teletubby generation) and Tesco, but that’s because if I can talk about trees, then I will.

With the girls still asleep I decided to complete the building of my bug hotel. They could have done it with me (had they been awake) but there’s lots of things we can do together. Had my children been smaller and needing entertainment then making a bug hotel would have been fun – and we could have discussed the differences between living at home, and living in a hotel…

Here’s what to do:

Let the little creatures treat your home like a hotel, in their purpose made bug hotel.

Let the little creatures treat your home like a hotel, in their purpose made bug hotel.

Make your own bug hotel

  • Bug hunting in the woods.

    Bug hunting in the woods. Now it can be done in the garden too.

  • Find a wooden or plastic window box that is past its best. Or make your own frame. Mine had been found in a skip – it is riddled with wood worm so I don’t want it inside, or anywhere near my window sills.
  • Tip it on to its side so you now have a roof.
  • Make a bug bedroom. Cut pieces of thin wood (about the size of your finger). Bundle them up into manageable piles (about the width of a small plant pot), then sling a rubber hand over them to keep the pile tight before tying securely with a piece of string or garden twine.
  • Make a bug ballroom. Vary the arrangement by adding different sized bundles of sticks.
  • Make a bug cocktail lounge. I also filled a plant pot with autumn leaves and another with very tightly rolled toilet-paper inners (all FSC-certified).
  • Now for the grand opening. Tuck your bug hotel into a dry corner in readiness for the new guests. You can expect woodlice (super cute!) but should also get all sorts of insects and their larvae/eggs over-wintering.

 Over to you
Did you parents tell you off like this? Do you have kids who treat your home like a hotel? or do you have advice how to prevent such a thing happening? And on a rather different note – if you’ve got a bug hotel what interesting insects have you discovered using it?

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