June’s guest speaker was Alan Briggs of Briggs Bughouses, maker of tiny garden houses with self-sustaining roofs to house for bugs, bees and birds.
Alan is a part time teaching assistant whose specialist area is woodwork, and he was led to the idea of bughouses from his own love of craft, gardening and the environment. He designs and builds every house himself and, to avoid the houses becoming too hot for the bugs, bees or birds, he designed the self-sustaining tiny gardens for each roof. The plants are selected for their ability to thrive on little to no maintenance. The houses’ careful design extends even to the individual plant trays that form the roof of each house.
The occupiers are initially attracted to the tiny gardens and, on approaching them, they will explore the little homes. Once the bug is happy that the home is empty they will settle in almost immediately. Spiders are usually the first arrivals but, eventually they make way for the bees/bugs that will later become the main inhabitants. It was fascinating to learn that many bees do not live in hives but will inhabit an individual cell and live happily in the same house with other bugs and beasts of different species. As the cells are drilled by Alan himself the bugs literally only have to choose their home and start to lay eggs accordingly and set up for family life.
Alan has taken his workshops all over the country and has found children his most interested participants; even the BBC has caught up with him on his travels! His houses come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are sold online and at local fairs and fetes. At present, he works entirely on his own, but his love for what he does made him an interesting speaker and a reminder to us all, of the capacity of the imagination and where this could lead us if we set it to work on an idea.