Rain Gardening and Rodents...

So what would I like to do today? Watch the little birdies crawling with delight over their bird feeder? Count the very last of the pale autumn leaves as they flutter sadly down? Find the mouse which an unknown cat let loose underneath the couch?

Wednesday 3rd May

Or do some exciting rain-gardening? You see, it is raining, gently but purposefully.

 A late prunus is dropping its leaves.
Winter Gardening

Aha! Rain-gardening! I remember it well... This is the answer. No need to watch daytime TV (am working my way through all the episodes of DI Frost, while couch-cycling the Giro D-Italia), or zoom off to a shopping mall to buy new sheets. Or do any house-work, perish the thought. These are the activities of an indoors-bored person. I am not one of these. I am an outdoors doing-things never-bored kind of gal. That's the theory, anyway. And there's always the dog-park to visit, if I sense I'm losing momentum.

 Some early winter colour magic.
Sorbus and Phormium


I did a small amount of rain-gardening, after a Brahms piano practice and the dog-park. Alas - like my garden, I apply huge amounts of energy to Brahms, yet improvement is elusive. It's rather sad when such an amazing composer arises to 'speak' for a couple of magical bars, then is again submerged in a watery mess of unsubtle, arthritic fingers. This must be how ponds feel when they become infested with well-meaning water lilies?


I think I notice little changes, seasonally speaking. But then I see something significant. And I can't remember ever noticing it in this way before. Let me explain. The Sorbus trees redden very late in autumn - that is, right now. And their colours are absolutely beautiful - smoky, sultry deep reds, like a glass of wine in flickering firelight...

I did barrow four loads of mess from the Hump (mainly pine needles) and three loads of leaves onto my bonfire. And I stood there for ages, adding alternate layers, gently poking and prodding - and, obviously, dreaming about wine as the light dimmed.

Thursday 4th May

Inclement weather - this is winter, after all - so I did personal non-gardening stuff. I went swimming, did lots of piano practice (a Schumann sonata, a Bach partita, and the grooviest Debussy prelude), cooked a roast chicken meal, and went to the dog park. There were a few hardy all-weather dogs there besides Winnie and Rusty.

 One of the last to lose its leaves.
Winnie and the Lime Tree

Friday 5th May

This morning I am gardening with the dogs at my friend's inland country garden. Is it frosty there? No, have just checked. Frost - the natural weed-protector, hee hee. Her garden much higher in elevation than mine, so all sorts of things are different. For example, she gets mildew all over her summer phloxes. And they are the boring lilac species ones. We just might dig them all out. From my research, dealing with mildew is a terribly serious operation where the gardener is 'on call' every single spring and summer hour. Hmm...

 No mildew in my garden, touch wood!
Lilac Phlox

+10Rodent lovers, avert your eyes. In the last two days : five fat mice, alive and kicking, and one large and (thankfully) dead rat. Each has been lovingly deposited, at various times of the day, on the kitchen floor. Insincere thanks go to the Old Master (ginger Percy) and his shining young Apprentice (sneaky black Miss Buster). Girls can do anything, especially cat-girls.

My System...

I have a disposal system. I trap the wrigglers in the kitchen sieve, take them outside, and call one of the dogs. Then I shut my eyes. Oops. Sorry about this. The sudden increase in mouse-catching is not surprising. It has suddenly become more wintry outside, after most of May being unusually warm.

Wax-Eye Bird :
These are Australian birds, also called silver-eyes.

Luckily there are no cat-induced casualties (so far) from the bird feeder and the fruit bowls hanging off the patio pergola. Black floppy starlings and flocks of flittery little wax-eyes are now spending every hour of daylight eating, and (like the cats) I love watching them. This is good practice for when I am really old, stuck in the rest home, hee hee.

Later, Bedtime...

Two hours working in my friend's garden, and then after a quick dog-walk I came home and lit up the bonfire. But this was disappointing, since the trimmings (mainly Aconitums, Macleaya, and Phlox) from the middle of the Apple Tree Border were too wet. I did burn the Miscanthus zebrinus leaves, though. I love this grass, and I'd love to divide it up, but would probably need to chain-saw through the heavy clump of roots.

 Dear Percy!
Percy the Ginger Cat

Sulking Bonfire

So we both sort of sulked, my bonfire and I, and my day ended in a slightly gloomy mood. At least the rhododendrons now have enough room to breathe, if I forget to go back into the depths of the Apple Tree Border. And I could, so easily. Forget, that is. Oops.

Evening Rodent Update

Another dead rat (aargh!), the deceased mouse from underneath the couch (eek!), and a live wriggler on the kitchen table (brought inside by Tiddles the tabby), alive no more (thanks this time to Fluff-Fluff the cat). The hunting season continues...

What would I do if I didn't have cats? One thought - mice and rats wouldn't be escorted into the house. They'd have to find their own way in...