Mr McGregor Lives On

Picture the scene if you will. The Gardener is attempting to fix yet another hole in an irrigation pipe nibbled by the mice. And as we know, any operation in the flower borders at this time of year is a balancing act. Literally. Just where do you put your feet? The resultant bodily contortions are never comfortable and more likely than not ungainly in the extreme. To make matters worse, for some reason known only to the Assistant Gardener a.k.a. Mike, the watering system could not be turned off while the repair was in progress. Ergo, The Gardener is going to get wet. Three times as it happens. First from the fountain of water spewing forth from the perforation. Then there’s the torrent occasioned by a snip through the tubing with the secateurs to prune out the chewed up section. And ultimately, saving the best till last, the sheets of water under pressure, cast in every direction, as the drip nozzle must be rammed back against the flow still gushing from the end of the severed pipe.

Was that all? Of course not. In order to grapple with her latest critter precipitated irrigation woes The Gardener is bent forward, head buried deep within the shrubbery. A further struggle against the forces of gravity involving muscles she never knew she had. And then, with barely a moment to register the sound of something crashing through the foliage a blur of grey fur streaks past the base of the phormium and without so much as a polite pause, even less an “Excuse Me”, the rabbit hurtles straight through the gap between The Gardener’s bare legs. And then what? THEN what? A millisecond later would you believe it, the same thing bloomin’ well happens again. A stoat. In hot pursuit of the rabbit. I need danger money to do this job. I tell you, I really do.



On the basis that fencing the plot isn’t even remotely practical we are having to learn how to live alongside our latest uninvited guests. As the plants continue to grow the chicken wire cages become marginally less offensive to the eye. And at least they seem to work. The jury is out on rabbit repellent sprays.  I am up to double strength which may be having some limited effect but at that rate of application a £9-for-a-small-bottle disappears alarmingly fast. Squirrel and mollusc spray repellents have been pretty much useless here so I didn’t hold out much hope in the first place to be honest.

And so I continue to pore over the lists of plants that bunnies should find less appealing to eat. Agapanthus, penstemon, sedums and veronica are so far holding up well. Along with the obviously poisonous and irritant species such as foxgloves and euphorbia. Roses, astrantia and every one of my much loved ornamental grasses are to rabbits as bulbs (and irrigation pipes) are to mice.



Why do they have to be so destructive? And so darn cute.



The hedge at the bottom of the lawn has taken two years to mature and in early Spring looked as though it was finally filling in. But the long view disguises a problem.



The bunny burrow is on the far side of the hedge. Their favourite evening hangout, the lawn, on the near side. In constantly pushing through from one to the other they’ve turned my hedge into a veritable Swiss cheese.

Enter the Assistant Gardener. Because ground rules need to be established and enforced.



Ha. Remember the chicken wire that came off the roof?



In the steamy heat of the propagator, 40 new cuttings. Hedge infill in the making.



Softly, softly, catchee out rabbit.

Until the next time.