Mary Reynolds in the Irish Forest Garden

We are the Ark. In the last few months we have introduced the small and big inhabitants of our nature ark here on Irlandnews (an overview mostly in german can be found here.) Mary Reynolds, the Irish gardener, garden designer and author founded the project “We are the Ark” in early 2019. The word Ark stands for both an ark in the literal sense and Acts of Restorative Kindness. It is about giving back your garden, your fields or part of your property to nature, being less gardener and more guardian. We have joined the new movement like many others. In the coming weeks we will introduce interesting Ark projects on the Emerald Isle. Imitation is highly recommended!

We have put our living place at the Bantry Bay on the Irish Atlantic Ocean into the service of nature protection and conservation. We feel connected to the We are the Ark initiative and have designated our property as a nature ark since autumn 2019: This is an Ark. Goldfinch House, that was the name of our house when we arrived in Ireland. But no goldfinches far and wide were to be seen. Also other birds were rare. It took more than ten years until the first goldfinches settle here again, nowadays up to 14 of them visit us at the same time. More and more species joined us and now regularly visit our feeding places. Currently we count 37 bird species in our ark.

Mary Reynolds is well-known in Ireland. She stands for bringing the wilderness back into our gardens. She won a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show years ago with this wild concept, and a successful feature film was made from this material: Dare to be Wild. The book author, landscape designer and activist is now taking a new approach to returning 50 percent of the earth’s surface to nature: We are The Ark.

One morning last year, Mary observed a stampede of animals from the neighborhood: the fox, a family of hedgehogs, then two rabbits ran chievied into her garden. Mary checked and discovered the large digger, which at brutal speed turned the neighboring property into a construction site for a new house. The plants were cleared away, the animals lost their homes. That morning the idea of the arks was born.

The network project We are the Ark is described in detail on the website The five goals are:

  1. To raise awareness for the ongoing extinction of species.
  2. To create many safe havens for wild animals and plants.
  3. To return as much land as possible to nature.
  4. The shelters / species and their guardians should start a network.
  5. To offer people an important task to support life on earth.

It is only hopeless if we do nothing. So let us do something! Let us create thousands of arks for nature! Almost every human being has the opportunity to protect a small piece of nature. So many small arks can be turned into one big quilt of nature conservation.

An Ark can be founded by private persons, groups of friends, school classes, farmers. It can start with a bee hotel on the balcony, it can continue with wildflower meadows in the city park, it can result in the redesign of the garden and the planting of trees. The website describes exactly how to start arks. There is also a logo on the website, a sign can be made by yourself to make it known: This is an ark. For the animals, the plants, the life on earth.

Meanwhile there are already many designated arks in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and elsewhere. An overview of the worldwide arks can be found here on the website of Mary Reynolds. We would like to show some of the Arks in Ireland in the coming weeks here on Irlandnews.

But today we don’t show you another Ark, today we have some words from Mary Reynolds:

What are the next steps in/with the movement?

I am hoping that the arkevists out there in the world take ownership of it and try and spread it themselves. I am about to start a video journey of my own ark to transform it into a wildlife sanctuary and home for myself and my kids….. Otherwise, it’s an organically growing movement, and it grows in spurts. I am always amazed and heartened when I come across Arks in my travels as other people do too….

What where your hopes when you started the Ark movement? Did they fullfill?
I am hoping that it becomes the new standard in land guardianship, that everybody will grow their own food and give the rest of any land under their care back to nature, to set it free. For people to stop treating the earth as a blank canvas for their artistic expressions, but to treat it with reverence and care and guardianship. To understand we are in a crisis, we are losing all of the magical creatures we share the earth with, we are driving them away, leaving them with no space. They are desperate and people are critically frustrated, waiting for political leadership to emerge, but I realised that will never happen.

It is up to us. All of the biggest changes in the world have come from small passionate movements, from the ground up. I want WE ARE THE ARK to become a patchwork quilt of restored earth that wraps its way around the globe and shift the consciousness of people to remember our roles in this web of life. To remember we only get to stay here if we take care of this place, if we love and care of all of the creatures we are sharing it with, rooted and unrooted. We are not there yet.

There is currently about 10,000 acres on our little ARK map on the website, every window box and square foot was added up. But most people do not want to add their Arks to the map, which is fine, but it is still great to watch the arks pop up all over the globe. I pin them all on myself, whenever I have time, and it gives me great hope, as I know in my heart, each of these arkevists are lovers of the earth, gentle green warriors who are standing up for our shared home and trying to make this a better, more harmonious world. Each of them will have a positive ripple effect on their own families, their own communities.

What are your hopes for the future of the Ark movement?
As above.

Anything else you’d like to let people know about you and/or the Arks?
Give as much land as you can spare back to nature, I promise you it will amaze you what returns almost overnight to live there. The wonderful creatures that come to stay, knowing they are safe will expand your family in the wildest of ways and fill your heart with wonder and gratitude for this magical ball of earth we are lucky enough to have landed on. We are simply mirror reflections of the land under our care, of the land we live with. So by setting it free, you are sowing seeds of freedom and authenticity into your own heart and life. Simple stuff.

x Mary


We are the hope we have been waiting for


Mary’s website:

PS: Our wooden sign with the words “This is an Ark” has its place on our gate and shows visitors straight away: This is an Ark for nature. Welcome nature!

Wanna join? More information here:  We are the Ark (engl) and Wir sind die Arche (dt)




Fotos/pictures: Claire Leadbitter / Mary Reynolds
Schild/sign: Antje Wendel;
Logo: Ruth Evans Art for Mary Reynolds