Six on Saturday: Visitors

In less than four weeks time we will be welcoming visitors as we open our garden for the National Garden Scheme, so we continue to crack on with necessary tasks in the garden. Now in our 5th year of opening ( although the planned June opening was cancelled last year because of the pandemic we had already managed a February opening before lockdown began), we are beginning to feel like old hands and there is not a seemingly endless job list as there will have been in the early years – in truth, I feel very much on top of it, although the Golfer’s list of task is not reducing very rapidly as he will keep going out and playing golf…

Almost all the pots are now planted up, the tulips having delayed the process because of their relatively late arrival and subsequent determination to hang around. Above are the four lead effect planters on the paved area, planted up with a new combination of petunia, verbena, osteospermum, calibrochea, diascia and lobelia, with a small cordyline to give a bit of height and add a ‘thriller’ to the ‘fillers’ and ‘spillers’. They should have filled out to a reasonable degree before we welcome any visitors…

…human visitors that is, as we have already had a number of less welcome visitors, like the woodpigeons I mentioned recently who systematically stripped the buds from my wisteria. Not very clear (because there is little evidence to make clear) on the photo below is the mere dozen or so racemes that are just opening as the wisteria gears up for what would normally be its showstopping moment of glory. It will not happen again, I assure you…

This year, I have tried to get in the habit of inspecting the lilies (all in pots) regularly for early signs of lily beetle but up till this week had only come across a single specimen; something has changed, and today I removed at least half a dozen of the blighters – this one seems to have somehow got himself squished…

Whilst lily beetles might elicit an irked growl from me when discovered, our next unwelcome visitor is on a par with the wood pigeons and has made me Very Angry and prompted Immediate Action…the purchase of fence spikes and an ‘animal repellant’:

I rounded the corner of the working greenhouse on my first-ramble-of-the-day midweek, to find a patch of cornflower in the cutting beds broken, smaller plants scuffed out of position and one of the posts supporting two layers of netting knocked over. The culprit, undoubtedly a cat, had clearly been disturbed in a neighbour’s garden, jumped onto the fence and down into the middle of the cutting bed, oblivious of the netting…the resulting mayhem must have been quite a sight (and sound, possibly) as he tried to extricate himself. There are at least 3 cats that regularly parade through our garden as if it was their own, but in this case we know exactly who the guilty party was as we found several clumps of white and ginger fur nearby. Why he lost so much fur and why it wasn’t on the actual scene of the crime remains a puzzle… It will not happen again, I assure you…

It may be coincidence, but we have not seen a cat anywhere in the garden in the few days since the animal repeller (designed to repel certain animals by ultrasonic waves inaudible to humans) was placed in situ, temporarily hanging on an existing bracket before being affixed to the wall.

Our final visitors have received a cautious welcome, having taken up noisy residence in a birdbox near the back door. Just above head height, the buzzing of the drones outside the entrance may be a little alarming at first but hopefully we will not get in each other’s way. I did, however, observe a dramatic incident of a larger bee (another queen, or a different species of bee?) being forcibly escorted downwards from outside the birdbox. I have not identified the residents yet, but they are a small dark species with a hint of white on their bottoms. I couldn’t get any closer for a better picture…

And that’s my six (or is it just 5?) for our genial host Jon the Propagator’s Six on Saturday meme

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14 Responses to Six on Saturday: Visitors

  1. bcparkison says:

    Glad you are able to open again.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    So, pigeons, lily beetles and kitties, and it all ends with a sign that says, “Welcome to my garden”, right next to where the cautiously welcomed bees live.

  3. Chloris says:

    Pigeons, lily beetles and next door’s cat are my unwelcome guests too. Next door’s cat lives in our garden and I saw him catch a wren last week. Since he found the bluetit’s nest in the apple tree there has been no sign of them. Why are people so soppy about cats? They are savage killers. If we were a bit smaller and they were a bit bigger they’d kill and eat us. I’ll try one of those ultrasonic wave gadgets. Lily beetles get squashed daily, but how do you deal with wood pigeons? Well done on being so ahead with preparations for your garden opening, it has been difficult keeping ahead of the weeds this year.

    • Cathy says:

      I am going to wrap my wisteria in fleece next year – I can buy it in a 5 x 10m piece which should wrap round it comfortably and not prove a risk to smaller birds. I was not especially confident of the ultrasonic thing working and it was very much a kneejerk instant response to order it, but so fa it seems to have made a difference – although I did see a cat in the garden today but I don’t think it came from the cutting beds part, which is the most ‘at risk’ area. You would probably need more than one for your garden

  4. B Taylor says:

    Sent from my iPad

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  5. When I lived in the city our dog was very good at keeping the cats away. He was trained to not go in the gardens – just loved to lay on the deck keeping watch over his domain. (I won’t mention the night he encountered a racoon – ’twas not a pretty sight…) I’m looking forward to your report on the garden tour – are you going to be selling plants again? Will there be Covid Protocols in place? Another new phrase to get used to…

    • Cathy says:

      Hmm, at least cats are quiet, Chris, unlike the yappy dogs near neighbours have!! Yes, there will be plant stall, and I hope to clear some of the backlog as I had prepared for the previous opening too, which didn’t happen. The UK hopes to lift restrictions fully on June 21st although that is stilll in the balance. People are permitted to meet in gardens though and as long as it is dry people can have their refreshments outside. I will provide gloves and hand gel and the like for my helpers if they want them, and I am hoping people will be so starved of garden visiting that our numbers will be up (but not too much, as it makes parking difficult!!)

  6. Pauline says:

    My wood pigeons didn’t attack my Wisteria, thank goodness, how will you prevent this happening again? Are there lots of restrictions to opening at the moment re Covid, are you having to restrict numbers? Hope your bees behave on opening day!

    • Cathy says:

      I think they must have attacked it before but didn’t leave obvious evidence – I shall be wrapping it in fleece next year which I am hoping will work well. Even if restrictions don’t fully lift on the 21st we can still have visitors and our numbers are unlikely to be such that we would need to restrict them. If we had opened last year people would have to have booked online. Our refreshment areas are partially covered and we will leave it to visitors to decide if they want to use them but there are lots of outside benches anyway. Visitors will have to pass the bees to get into the garden, and we will need to warn them – I suppose we can let them through the house if it is too scarey for them!

  7. Cathy says:

    Well, those deterrents have worked for us against mice in the barn, so good luck! The containers look lovely, and having bees in the garden can only be good. 😃

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, we have plug-in ones in the house and haven’t had mice since we used them, but nevertheless I wasn’t very optimistic about the cats! I am pleased about the bees and hopefully will find time to identify them – I found an injured one so was able to get closer and take a photo

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