Friday, 20 May 2016

cats and rabbits

Our Ginger has given up with baby rabbits, and switched to mice.  This is disappointing, since there is a whole family of juvenile bunnies frolicking in the rose beds.  The Systems Administrator took a couple of shots at them from the bedroom window, but without success.  I am not happy about the rabbits, but with any luck the cavalry is on the way in the form of the least cuddly kitten, an athletic creature who has already mastered the art of slinking with his body close to the ground. He and the most energetic, outgoing one are racing about the room taking it in turns to carry a screwed up piece of paper with a string tail clamped in their jaws.  I might have to make them a new one soon.  I am not sure whether Mr Fluffy is a born hunter but that's fine, he can sit in my lap and purr while the action heroes are patrolling the garden.

I have been planting out low growing Sedum in the railway garden, raised from cuttings.  I shall take more cuttings as soon as there's room in the greenhouse, when I've shifted the tender stuff out. The Sedum album 'Coral Carpet' which I rooted in an eight by six divided tray last year and planted out around the model buildings as tiny plugs has taken and is spreading well in its unpromising position on a raised bank of pure sand in semi shade.  The SA mounded the earth up in places around the railway to make the topography more interesting.  It does, but the soil in the front garden gets unbelievably dry to begin with.  Heap it up and add root competition from a field hedge for good measure and I was really not sure what could be expected to grow.  I didn't know whether the Sedum would cope with the shade of the hedge, but it doesn't seem to mind.  And rabbits don't seem to eat it.

Box is good for unpromising dry shady spots, though now that box blight is a problem you might prefer not to depend on it.  It was looking very yellow and dreadful, and the SA muttered that it was no good there, but the SA had not weeded, fed or watered it since planting it.  Between us we cleared the grass from around it last year, and I dosed it with fish, blood and bone.  This year it is looking much happier.

The heathers I planted last year are not looking so good.  They are not turning brown and dying, but nor are they growing.  They are going to need watering this summer, to try and get them going. If they can get their roots down they'll be fine.  If not they will die and we'll have to think of something else.  Rabbits don't seem to eat heather either.

Nor do they eat Arenaria montana, which is growing prodigiously well.  The clue's in the common name, mountain sandwort.  It likes sand.  It is seeding itself around so generously that if I were trying to grow fine alpines I would be terrified of it.  Since I am mainly trying to find anything reasonably pretty and not too large to cover the area of the railway garden to reduce the amount of weeding I am on balance grateful to the sandwort.  It has narrow, dark green leaves, and single white flowers that are out now.  It makes quite dense patches once it gets established, and is a useful groundcover if you happen to have a large area of sandy soil and want something low growing.

Rabbits do eat pinks, which is particularly annoying since I put in a lot of smart named varieties from Whetmans last year.  Their growing instructions said to cut the pinks back in the autumn, which the rabbits did for me, but I don't want them continuing into the spring.  Rabbits also eat eat prostrate Veronica, and they love Iberis sempervirens.  And Pulsatilla.  And dwarf Penstemon. Things will start to change from July, though, when we unleash the kittens of mass destruction.

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