When Bob Salisbury and his wife Rosemary moved back to County Tyrone from Nottinghamshire they set about building their new home on a 17-acre site.
In a 15-year labour of love the couple have transformed a barren corner near Seskinore into a wildlife haven.
Next Tuesday night at 7.30pm in Maghera leisure centre, Sir Bob will speak to members of the local Garden Society.
Describing their journey as a “good news environmental story,” he recently published a book charting their hard work.
‘The Field Of Dreams’ is an inspiring story for amateur gardeners which has received critical acclaim.
Recalling the transformation of the wildness they moved to, Sir Bob said: “When we acquired the first five acres, it wwas a rural desert, neglected and devoid of birdsong.
“It was nothing like the landscape Rosemary recalled from her childhood here, when there were skylarks, curlews and many smalle birds. We decided to try to turn the clock back.”
“Neither of us were experts in biodiversity, we knew nothing of garden design, had little spare cash but we had a dream. We played it by ear and started planting trees under our own steam – over 1,000 whips of alder, oak, maple, ash, hazel and pine.
“We excavated three large ponds, thickened up existing hedgerows to form small woods and sowed a wildflower meadow. Then we waited with bated breath.
“Before long, the new ponds were visited by hundreds of frogs and newts, as well as heron, buzzard and otters. Mallard, teal, moorhen and water rail began breeding, the occasional dabchick, cormorant or merganser dropped in, and great diving beetles, ram-shorn water snails and water boatmen appeared.
“Fieldfares, house martins and swallows came in droves, charms of goldfinches swirled around the thistles and sparrow hawks hunted. Irish hares and barn owls appeared, the first seen in the area for over thirty years. Results of what seemed at times, a crazy scheme, exceeded our wildest dreams.”
Sir Bob said committed people can change the world. “We must be prepared to put in more than we take out,” he continued. “In our view it is well worth the effort.”
He is looking forward to the talk to Maghera Garden Society on Tuesday March 19 at 7.30pm.
He said his talk will be of interest to anyone who has a passion for conservation and the protection of wildlife.