Monday, 17 April 2017

garden wildlife wanted and unwanted

I saw a fox walk across the back garden today at ten past five in the afternoon.  It emerged from the island bed, calmly and confidently crossed the top lawn, and disappeared into the rose bed under the veranda.  I went outside to chase it away, but it was nowhere to be seen, already gone or else hiding.  I am glad the kitties are no longer small.  Luckily the hens were shut in their run, which has a wire netting roof, but Reynard's visit in broad daylight does illustrate the difficulty of letting them out.  I read the other day in the paper about somebody who opened his door every evening for the local fox and fed it sultanas in his living room, and was amazed.  Townies are different.  They do not understand.  The fox would have every one of the chickens, given the chance.

At least the cats are on the case with the rabbit problem.  Mr Fidget caught a baby last night, and Our Ginger has just come in growling furiously with another one.  The Systems Administrator shooed him out with it, closely followed by Mr Fidget.  I don't know if he will be allowed a share or if it will be like the little boy's request for a taste of somebody else's apple: ain't gonna be no core. Mr Fluffy did not try to join in.  He shows no interest in killing mammals at all, only birds, but fortunately he doesn't get those very often.

The starlings seem to be back this year nesting in the roof in the front of the house.  They didn't come last year, and we missed them.  There has been a lot of starling chattering from that end of the front garden, and this morning I saw a pair swoop down from the direction of the eaves, but didn't see them actually emerge from the hole since I was not looking up at the time.  I adore starlings.  They are such characterful birds, bustling about and making their strange staccato clicks and calls.  When they do nest in the roof they never seem to come out and forage in the garden, instead they shoot away in the direction of the farm.

Even a couple of days spent doing indoor things means I've missed things opening in the garden.  As I went out in pursuit of the fox I saw that the blue flowers of the Camassia leichtilinii had started to open.  They do excellently on clay, which is not the case for many bulbous species, but I am still trying to work out what can coexist with them to cover the space from the second half of summer onwards when their leaves have died down.  Whatever it is has to be happy with the clay, and able to tolerate having its emerging leaves shaded at this time of year, or else be very late to emerge itself.

The Paulownia is in full bloom, and while it is covered in its purple-blue candelabras of foxglove shaped flowers I feel the effort of trying to prune it afterwards must be worth it.  Last spring I swore to myself I'd cut it right down in the winter, but then relented as it had made rather a nice balanced shape and was already in bud again.  It can't be allowed to grow to full size, being too close to the house and in the middle of a rose bed, and it was not originally intended to be a tree at all, but to be coppiced annually for the huge leaves.  One stem of coppice escaped the pruning saw and produced buds, I soft-heartedly left it until it had flowered just to see it bloom, and it took it from there.  The way that it bounced back from last spring's pruning session suggests that conceptually it can be managed as a large standard shrub, only getting at it to prune it in the middle of the rose bed is so cumbersome.  We are not talking piddly little floribundas, you understand, but big sprawling shrub roses.  Parts of 'William Lobb' are currently lashed to the trunk of the Paulownia to stop them from flopping over everything else.

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