With the urban population of the UK at around 83.65% there are a lot of us living in cities. Many of us will dream away the week days with plans for country walks. Yet more of us enjoy the offerings we can find in urban nature. I love nothing more than noticing a petite flower in a wall or toadstool on a verge, so here are some urban nature activities to get you exploring urban nature where you live.
Urban Nature Activities
While nature activities will be far easier to do in the countryside or in a park, it can be much more rewarding in the city or around urban spaces. An added bonus to urban nature activities is that you can often do them right outside your front door in a short space of time. Perfect for a lunch break wander or after work mini adventure. I have shared some Fun Outdoor Activities for Adults if you fancy something to get your creativity started too. Although this post is more urban in focus!
Plant a butterfly and bee garden
Despite the word garden in there, you in fact don’t need one for this activity. Butterfly and bee gardens can be grown in little spaces and in pots on the windowsill (outside, of course) or balcony. Don’t have one of those, then I am sure your neighbours wouldn’t be upset with a pot of lovely flowers to adorn the entrance to your block of flats or shared space.
Planing for butterflies and bees not only brightens up your space, but it benefits nature too as they help to pollinate our plants. Some of my garden favourites, which are also sweet smelling for us humans include lavender and buddleia – which is something you will spot in the cracks of old buildings around cities too. For more inspiration for your butterfly and bee garden check out this great post by The Sunday Gardener specifically on plants for bee and butterfly gardens.
Get bird watching
Wherever you live on the urban scale of areas, there will be all kinds of birds sharing your space. When I say bird watching, I don’t mean in the professional style sense. You don’t need expensive binoculars or specialist knowledge, I am taking beginner stuff here. The level I am at. The kind where you grab a basic book or app to help you with identification.
An easy one to get started with. Look out of your window and see what birds you can spot. You don’t even need to think about identifying them at this point, just enjoy seeing them. I find that this helps you to learn what you might be looking for, think sparrows, magpies, starlings and gulls.
Grow some windowsill veggies
You don’t need an expansive garden or big outdoor space to grow veggies. Even a couple of pots of herbs on your kitchen windowsill will being all kinds of niceties to your day. There is nothing quite like tending to a plant and then using the leaves or fruit to make something tasty to eat. Even better if you can grow and nurture it from seed too.
There are quite a few different vegetable which do well indoors on a sunny windowsill. I am growing tomatoes, cucumbers and some herbs this year. Peppers and chillis are also excellent indoor veggies as well, as they can last well into winter with the warm indoor temperature. So you can keep your growing season going well into the colder months, which is a nice bonus of indoor gardening. With the summer season coming to an end, you can usually pick up some bargain end of season seeds in places like Wilkos. Some of which you can get started now and others stashed away for next years growing.
Hunt out some fungi
I have noticed so much more fungi and different kinds of toadstools this last few years. Whether it is that there are more growing or that I have simply become more aware of them, there are definitely a lot of types. Like with my ‘birding’, I am absolutely no expert in fungi at all, but I do love snapping a picture to upload to iNaturalist or looking up in my Collins Gem book when I get home.
One thing I would say, is as people who are beginners in the world of mushrooms, look but don’t touch! There are plenty of foraging courses and events out there, where you have an expert guiding you, that there is no need to risk getting sick by picking things you don’t know about. So enjoy taking some pictures and looking them up, but leave them be.
Be mindful and use your senses
While you might think of mindfulness as more of a sitting or lying down kind of meditation practice, it is a brilliant way to enjoy nature as well. While we might head out for a walk and see it as a way to get from A to B, we can add mindfulness to it to make it something more relaxed and exploratory. Being mindful when our for a walk in nature means using all of your senses and staying aware of the things going on around you.
Listening to the gentle rustle of the leaves in the wind, the distant sound of birds flying overhead. Looking at the plants, cracks and other things around you. Noticing the small things, like a weed growing from a wall or a petal floating on a puddle. And smelling. Smelling the air, the feint scent of flowers or other things drifting in the air. Mindfulness asks that you take some time to really get to know your surrounding. Taking a bit of time over each sense and really appreciating them.
Perhaps you want to take a notebook so you can record what you notice. It is another lovely way to get to know nature and how you interact with it. The main thing is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. You simply need to go with the flow and pay attention to the things you notice.
Become a tiny explorer
So often in cities, we are looking up to the tops of the high buildings, or weaving in and out of people coming towards us. Becoming a tiny explorer has you looking in different directions and keeping your eyes peeled for the small things. When you go out with the intention to find small things, you start looking in usual ways. Paying attention to the moss on top of the church wall, the tiny flowers in the un-mowed verge along the road and the little weeds which brighten the cracks around the high street shops.
I love looking out for these little things as it reminds me that nature is everywhere – no matter the amount of brick or concrete. It is also a fun opportunity to take some photos and to see things really closely. I never realised that moss grew such lovely little ‘flowers’ until I got up close and personal with them on a walk back from Didsbury.
Urban Nature Activities
Of course there are plenty of other ways you can spend time in nature, but I didn’t want to take more of the time in which you could be out there spotting birds, mushrooms or tiny flowers! I wanted to give you a starting point and would be so pleased if you could share some of your ideas too. Perhaps they will make it into the next post about urban nature activities.
Urban nature activities are a great way to make the most of your time outdoors. Whether it is in your back yard, on the street outside your house, the high street in the city centre or an urban park. Nature is everywhere and we can even bring it into our homes too. So get out there, go for a wander and enjoy the green and interesting offers mother nature has to share with us.
Let me know of any other urban nature activities you enjoy, I’d love to hear them.
And tag me in your photos too @the_urban_wanderer on Instagram so we can share the love of urban nature!