“Plink, Plink” Said The Plump Usher

My apologies, I have been neglectful of this blog which is a bit rude: especially after all that “Oh wow. I have been doing this for six years” stuff in which I indulged last time we met. I have been fearfully busy doing RHS things, normal things and this revolutionising of the garden media about which I dropped a hint the other day. I am still remaining a little reticent as there is not much I can show you here but, various people have now seen the fumbling beginnings and have been kind.

So that is a good start. Suffice to say it involves iPads and gardens and is extraordinarily gorgeous. If you want to see it then come and find me.

In the meantime, we have had a bit of a mammal-fest in the garden. This is, mostly, a good thing as it makes things more interesting as we sweep frostily into February.

First, we had a visiting cat. I know that, to town dwellers, this is a real “Whatever!” moment as no day is complete without a string of neighbouring moggies relieving themselves in your geraniums, but we have not had a feline visitor for a while. Our most recent cat died about two years ago (during a rather ghastly month when we lost one cat and two dogs) and has not yet been replaced. This visiting cat was not, I’m afraid, a very attractive specimen. Gingery black with a face like a cheap bouncer. I rapped on the window and it paused, slowly turned to look at me, lifted a disdainful eyebrow, uttered a stream of unrepeatable profanities from the corner of its mouth and sauntered off: no manners, cats.

Secondly, a large fox appeared (again this is not news to those of you who regularly have your dustbins rifled by mangy specimens). We have had previous visits from foxes – the most obvious being the couple of times when we have found all the chickens slaughtered – but not often within the garden. This fox just wandered in during the day, shat on a plant and went again. It then reappeared later at the same time as the previously mentioned cat. The following conversation ensued:

Fox: “Who you lookin’ at?”

Cat: “You, you spindle shanked, bushy tailed poltroon. You fluttering coxcomb. I spit in your wobble. You hopper arsed trullibub. You whoreson buck fitch. May your galligaskins split and the huckle spill from your table. ” (I warned you the cat was foul mouthed but I had not realised until that moment how archaic is the average cat’s vocabulary)

Fox: “Oh. Alright then”

Exit Fox.

Thirdly, a whole lotta mice. These had taken up residence in, among and under a load (or perhaps drift is a more apposite description) of Panicum. The little blighters had eaten most of the roots and built themselves cosy little houses. They scattered when the things were cut down like a cartoon version of the Three Blind Mice. Carol, who was doing the cutting, did not stand on a stool and scream which was disappointing for those of us who particularly enjoy a cliche coming to life.

Fourthly, a hibernating hedgehog which was discovered by Carol’s dog curled up in a ball and dug into a flower bed. He was very carefully rehoused by Simon. We often see hedgehog poo, but seldom the hedgehogs although I did find two babies living in the compost heap a few years ago which was very charming. It is odd how baby hedgehogs are cute, baby rats are not: public perception relies so much on good PR and rats definitely employed the wrong company.

Fifthly, various moles which have been caught on a reasonably regular basis since Christmas. These have seen fruitful post-death service as my dear daughter has been rather taken with the idea of taxidermy so has been practising by skinning any dead mammal that comes within her reach. She has become very efficient and can whip the pelt off a squirrel in minutes. We have had a selection of mole pelts pinned out on boards in the kitchen. A mole skin is a very soft and lovely thing, I am hoping for, at the very least, a singlet.

I am listening to Leonard Cohen singing Different Sides. For him, it is almost jaunty. The picture is of the Sarcococca hookeriana outside my office. I took the photograph using a very neat little macro lens that clips onto my iPhone, tricky to hold still but interesting.There is also fish eye attachment.