Green Is The Colour

If months were colours then May would definitely be green. There are little shoots and leaves appearing everywhere and I’m sure if you could stand still for long enough you would be able to see things growing. The hanging baskets have been planted ready for Summer and they’ve been left in a sheltered place until the risk of frost has passed.
I’ve had a bag of dahlias tubers from Sarah Raven sitting on my kitchen table for ages – I’m convinced that I get more excited with the contents of this package than those contained within a Tiffany’s box. The ridiculously dull little tubers have finally been planted and I’m already excited about them popping up next to the salad and vegetables and adding a burst of colour. I could easily turn into a dahlia addict……

May Planting

The pansies are still flowering well so I haven’t replaced them yet and I’m pleased to say that the Mr Fokker anemones are finally in bloom!

Unfortunately, the war on slugs and snails has begun (well in truth it’s more like a little scuffle at the moment). The hosta pots have now got a band of copper tape around the rim which will hopefully deter the slimy molluscs  from crossing it and helping themselves to an all day breakfast. I’ve also surrounded the chrysanthemums with crushed egg shells but this appears less successful as there are already holes in the tender leaves. I want to try the slug pubs and up turned grapefruits but in the meantime I would love to hear if you have any favourite natural solutions that would help? The chickens would have a feast but would probably do more damage than the slugs!

Slugs & Snails

The cats are also doing their best to help me with the gardening jobs. They love a spot of weeding (digging for no reason) and pest control (pouncing on anything that moves). It is lovely to have them outside in the garden with me and they love to show off, climb trees and race around the paddocks. They have been particularly entertained by the baby rabbits who are thankfully faster than they are! In the photo below Bella & Milo are absolutely transfixed on a rabbit on the other side of the window.
Isn’t it funny how the small things in life can make us happy? I’m so pleased that the French Tarragon has started to come through again this year – I expected the snow and frosts to have killed it so I’m really chuffed to see it again :-)

Stripey Cats & fields

The weather forecast remains poor – wind and rain for most of the weekend so garden plans are put on hold for now. Enjoy your weekend!

Fairy Garden

Well, here’s the fairy garden.. it’s a nice little plot with a temporary dwelling to the rear of the garden and there is planning permission for a more suitable fairy property in the future. It’s currently vacant and the asking price is some help in the Kitchen Garden (mainly to keep the slug population in check and pull a few weeds as they pop up)… ooh, and some magical frost protection would give them free house insurance.

Fairy GardenThe kittens have been making me laugh so much. Two crab apple trees arrived in the post and before I could dispose of the box they decided to hijack it and make it their own. They’ve realised it’s great for sleeping in, hiding in, peeping out of and unexpectedly swiping at things that pass by! It’s quite a long, thin box so it doesn’t fit in the utility room very easily so it’s currently in the garden room where they use it as a hide to watch the rabbits.

Cat in a box

When the cats weren’t playing in their box they were outside chasing insects. They’ve tried stalking the local pheasants but get scared once the birds turn and look them in the eye.

Cats in sunshine

If you would like to see two fairy gardens that are fully occupied and full of fun then I recommend that you visit lovely Alys who inspired me to make a fairy garden. You can then hop over to Boomdee’s Gnome Home and have a look at her vintage vibe… I hope my fairy garden will have good occupants soon :-)

Mouse Party!

Under the kitchen sink there is a cupboard where the dusters and cleaning products belong. It’s also where the magical ever-lasting can of furniture polish lives (even though I use the can at least twice a year it never seems to empty for some reason). Anyway, it was in this cupboard that I discovered a path of confetti made from lots of chewed scouring pads, dishwasher tablets and plastic bottles. All the evidence pointed towards a late night Mouse Party.
Now whilst most normal people are hard wired to think “dirty, smelly little vermin” I automatically conjures up Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca from the Tales of Beatrix Potter! If you don’t know the story it’s about two bad mice who wreaked havoc on a beautiful doll’s house and completely vandalised it. And they look so adorable!!!


Back to reality – I know that mice are dirty, disease carrying pests and need to be dealt with swiftly but the idea of poisons and violent traps do not sit easily with me… so as my poor, exasperated husband looked on with despair (not for the first time unfortunately) as I came up with Plan A:
1. Block as as many  holes as possible in which mice could fit through. In such an old house their seems to be more holes than skirting boards! As they can apparently squeeze through a hole the size of a pencil I’m not holding my breath with this one.
2. Remove available food sources, make sure there are no crumbs anywhere and put the rubbish in a lockable bin. There’s no combination lock yet but that’s not to say it won’t happen ;-)
3. Put up a sign in the party cupboard to tell the mice to keep out. It worked for the rabbits but I’m not sure if mice can read?? If they can read, but persist anyway, they will realise that an eviction notice has been served.
4. Peppermint oil to be sprinkled around the perimeter. The house smells like toothpaste but it’s better than the fusty smell of mouse!
5. The humane traps are waiting in the wings.
6. If the above doesn’t work then my Evil Husband (cue villainous laughter… mwaa, haa, hhaa!) will implement Plan B which I’m sure most of you sensible guys would actually use as Plan A!!!.
Don’t shout at me, I know that I need to toughen up and change the cute and fluffy pictures in my head to something a little scarier…. how about the scary Vampire Mouse below??

By the way, another option that came up in Plan A and Plan B was getting a cat. Up until a couple of years ago we’d always had cats and never seemed to have a mouse problem. Our  little cat died a couple of years ago and neither of us wanted to rush out and get another one as it was all too sad. The exciting news is that we’re both finally ready to have a couple of cats again (I’m currently doing my happy dance!).
I’m just a little concerned that the kittens will be cornered by a Vampire Mouse that dwells behind the kitchen sink!! Maybe I need to scrub that image too…………

The Hungry Slug

As the garden is slowly being put to bed for the Winter, like a naughty child it’s decided that it’s not quite bedtime yet! There are new flowers appearing on the hydrangeas, green buds in the hedgerow and even asparagus spears are too impatient to wait for Spring! The sunshine has been lovely today, and although it’s been frosty, there was much activity. However everything stopped, albeit briefly, at 11 o’clock for Remembrance Day.

I don’t think there will be many flowers left next weekend as the mornings are really frosty now. That’s probably why a mouse has decided to come indoors and leave presents everywhere…. but more of that later ;-)

Winter Breaks for Insects

The mornings are darker, the air is cooler and there is definitely a whiff of Autumn in the air. With the success of the Nectar Bar this year I’m already thinking of expanding my interests into insect real estate….

There is already a simple insect dwelling like the one below by the front door. The Lacewings and Ladybirds love it and there are a few crafty little spiders who act as security guards. It’s easy to maintain, looks attractive and provides good shelter against the elements. Unfortunately, it gets a little cramped over Winter and there is only one bathroom so it’s time for an upgrade.

Okay, I need to source various materials such as bricks, drilled wood, pallets, tiles and pipes… thankfully I have a huge heap of these in the paddock and, once the thistles have died down, I’ll gather these up. I just need to think about what style to have. I like the thought of a country retreat for them but, as many of the insects around here already live in the country, they may wish to try something different.

Maybe I could build them a town house….

… or a whole metropolis! The nightlife is certainly going to be more vibrant and they’ll meet all sorts of interesting multi-legged friends. The only problem is that it took us SO long to get planning permission for the outbuildings that buiding an insect city may not be worth the stress!

On reflection I’ll probably build a simple pallet structure that is tucked away in a quiet corner similar to the one below! As an organic gardener I have to take care of the friendly bugs so that they can scare away the nasty ones (I was once told that they eat their enemies but this is too gruesome to contemplate).

Ever since I saw Malc’s insect hotel over at Green Bench Ramblings I have been mulling these ideas over so watch this space in a couple of months and you may just be surprised (hopefully in a good way!).