How Does your Garden Grow?

June 22, 2017

Well now, funny you should ask that.

The plants that just sort of get on with it, like the potatoes and the broad beans, are just getting on with it.

broad beans and potatoes

The bits that regularly have hares sitting on them have hare-shaped gaps in the planting. I don’t know whether to be relieved or offended that they aren’t bothering to eat my beetroot…

beetroot with gaps

And one thing I have learnt since moving here is that beautifully landscaped sandstone terrace walls effectively double as high-density housing for slugs. We were out enjoying the last gasp of the longest day last night when I noticed how many of them were out chewing my plants. Time for some remedial action – fortunately slug beer brews up pretty quick and they don’t seem that fussy.

slugs in slug trap

Oh and up close, clematis flowers are rather fabulous

clematis flower

 


Tuckered Out

June 9, 2017

When you were going to go to bed but then you caught the news about the exit poll and you ended up staying up way past your bedtime waiting for just a few more results to come in …

sleeping hare

not dead, only sleeping

… I think this young hare speaks for the nation today. And yes, it is genuinely fast asleep like that, not dead. It just crashed out like that on our patio. It’s nice that they feel that relaxed about being in our garden …


Baselining

May 31, 2017

With the other half finally home, and things slightly easing off on the bonkers busy front, it’s been time to start getting to grips with the gardening backlog. Today, I managed an hour or so listening to the radio (PM is as ever the only news programme that’s bearable during election time, indeed increasingly the only news programme that’s bearable full stop) and planting out my leek seedlings while the other half tackled the grass.

leek seedlings

I’m putting this year’s veg growing down to establishing a baseline – things can only improve from here, effectively. Especially as I discovered this morning that the Small Emergency Backup Hare is using the potato patch as its current chilling spot. Clearly my hare defences need to be exchanged for something less rustic and more agricultural, possibly involving chicken wire and/or baler twine.

veg plot at the end of May

Meanwhile, the Large Main Hare and another Large Main Hare appear to be working on the stock of Small Emergency Backup Hares, although Mrs Main Hare doesn’t seem to be too keen right at the moment. Yesterday, as I headed off on my bike to Bigtown they were so busy chasing eachother round the farmyard at the bottom of the hill they were actually running towards me instead of away – I can only hope they’re a bit more wary around the cars. And I’ve discovered that, for an animal with a reputation for the uncanny and the magical, when hares get frisky with each other they’re actually pretty heavy footed (especially when you’re all alone in the house and wondering what on earth is thundering around outside). Humans clearly aren’t the only ones to totally lose their cool in the presence of the opposite sex…

frisky hares


Hare Today, No Veg Tomorrow

May 15, 2017

We’ve been sadly deficient in hares for the last few days, which is a great sadness to us because it’s been a huge privilege to be able to watch them chilling out in our back garden.

So I was quite excited the other morning to see something moving through the garden and snapped a quick somewhat hazy photo (I had just got out of the bath…)

hare in the veg plot

Hmm. Perhaps they can’t read after all. I thought my sign was pretty clear.

After it had had a nibble of the potato leaves, it hopped over my hare defences with insolent ease.

Unfortunately, we are off (again, I know, but family calls) to Colorado for a week leaving the hares in charge. At best this may bode ill for the vegetables. At worst, they may have moved in and changed the locks. I’m ruling nothing out.

Even if the latter, I think the other half is still Team Hare.


Step Aside ASBO Buzzard

May 13, 2017

So, I’ve never really quite understood why the good people of Bigtown were so down on the local gull population. It’s near enough to the sea that you’re going to expect there to be gulls and personally I think they give a town a holiday-ish air. I can understand it if you’ve got one that’s built a nest on your house and is busy defending it against all comers, including you, or if you’ve just lost half your chips to an avian maurauder, but otherwise a bird is a bird, even if it’s a bit shouty. Of all the things that’s wrong with Bigtown, I wouldn’t even have put ‘seagulls’ in the top ten, but it invariably comes up in the list of complaints about the place, usually as part of the holy trinity of local issues (dog poo and potholes being the other two of course) – to the point where an Urban Gull Task Force* has apparently been set up to combat them.

And then I was standing innocently minding my own business on the High Street this morning when I felt what appeared to be half a bucket of something being emptied over my head. And realised that I had been literally dumped on from a great height. It turns out that a herring gull can unleash an extraordinary amount of crap in one go and this one had scored a direct hit on my hat, saddle, shoe, back, jacket hood, arm, and both the outside and inside of my Brompton basket.

Oh, and top tip to those in a similar situation: don’t try and get any sympathy from someone who’s spent a season in the Farne Islands.

* As a side note, ‘task forces’ are clearly one of those things, like ‘tsars’, that have suffered from serious devaluation over the years. The first time the UK deployed a task force, it retook the Falklands. The Transport Minister recently set up an Active Travel Task Force to tackle the growing backlash against cycling infrastructure which, disappointingly, has confined itself to calls for evidence and hasn’t got a single battleship. That’s hardly going to bring East Dunbartonshire Council to heel, now, is it?


Hare’s Gap

May 4, 2017

As amazing a privilege as it is to wake each morning to find not one but two hares sunning themselves in your garden (in the immortal phrasing of Dave Barry, a large main hare and a small emergency backup hare), I felt that with the advent of the veg growing season, some boundaries needed to be made quite clear.

hare habitat and non hare habitat

So far, the large main hare has been keeping to the correct side of my anti-hare fence, but I’d left a gap to get the wheelbarrow in and out and as I was about to plant out my broad beans and peas and then leave them undefended while I went to Seville, except by the other half (who is pretty much Team Hare and unlikely to do anything to stop them eating whatever they like) it was time to close the gap.

hare defences mark one

First attempt at a gate.

My first attempt at a gate was pleasingly rustic, but effectively lasted 12 hours before it blew over. It was time for something less decorative and more solid. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to create anything like that, so I just bodged it as usual.

hare defences mark two

Ah sod it

It’s well known in the UK cycle infrastructure world that there’s no bodge so half-arsed that putting up a sign won’t magically make it work. I didn’t have a cyclists dismount sign handy, so I made one of my own.*

no hares

Looking forward to coming back and finding that at least some of my poor seedlings will have survived …

seedlings planted out

*Obviously, hares can’t read, so I drew a picture as well. I’m not a complete idiot.


Hare Brained

April 27, 2017

As spring (or ‘spring’, as it’s been rebranded after the last couple of days of icy winds and the odd shower of is that … snow?) advances, the garden is slowly revealing itself. Or at least, what survives of the garden after, apparently, ten years of neglect and rampant chickens, if our neighbours’ stories of the previous owners are anything to go by. Probably not plants that are going to need a whole lot of cosseting to survive.

Dicentra formosa

Dicentra formosa (according to Professor Google) which has popped up in one of the bits down to be managed by strimmer…

There’s a lot of it, so my strategy was to try and identify which bits of the garden I would try and change this year, which bits I would try to maintain as they are, and which bits would be left to be managed by strimmer until we have decided what to do with them and have the time to take them on.

hare hiding

spot the hare

Since the advent of the junior hare, however, the garden has been reclassified into ‘hare habitat’ and ‘non-hare habitat’. The hare, being downright adorable, gets to have whichever bits of the garden it likes to sit in (currently: under a pile of willow sticks that were going to be burnt, in a clump of weeds by a wall that were going to be weeded, next to the bench where we like to have our coffee in the sunshine, and tucked into a huge clump of grass beside an old tree stump where it has created a hare-shaped hole (technically a ‘form’). I’ve managed to retain the veg patch, the front lawn and, so far, the house although if it wanted to come in, I can’t imagine us denying it.

hare form

Hare-shaped hole in the grass

So the gardening will be somewhat patchy this year – but we’re not complaining. When the hare is around, and visible from the windows in the house, it’s actually quite hard to tear yourself away in case it does something extra cute like scratch its nose, pull down its ears to nibble at the tips of them, or stretch out one or more of its improbably long legs before settling down to look inscrutable again in its chosen spot.

hare in weeds

hare, what hare?

It’s also quite hard to go out to the garage for more fuel for the fire, or do any gardening, or generally do anything, without scaring it off, so we’ve been reduced to walking the long way around the house to the garage, or practising our special nonchalant ‘hare, what hare?’ walk as we skirt past it as unobtrusively and unscarily as possible.

hare running away

Sometimes this works better than others.

Hares aren’t territorial, so we know that this one is really only visiting and eventually it will move on and we will get full access to our garden again. But gosh we’ll be sad to see it go …