Pumpkin Soup

a weblog with an allotment attached

25 August 2009

Nostalgia – part two – wildlife

Gatekeeper butterfly

Returning to my rather lengthy response to Gillian’s question, I have more thoughts about what has drawn me into gardening.

As a child I was fascinated by animals. I was desperate to have a pony (or, even better, to be a pony – how fab would that have been?), longed to have a huge collection of cats and dogs (oh, if only I could have found a stray or two…) and would have loved a guinea pig or two.

I was never that bothered about fish, mind. It’s not as though you can stroke a fish, is it?

Bee and aquilegia

Part of the appeal of the great outdoors, then, was being surrounded by a teeming mass of creeping, crawling, burrowing, flying, scurrying and snuffling creatures. Of course, being wild they were always shy too which, for a child, is pretty frustrating.

Still, the sparrows and the starlings were much bolder and more plentiful back then than they are now. And the overgrown pasture all around where we lived meant that even boistrous kids would stumble upon fieldmice or voles (surely among the shyest of creatures) with some regularity. I’d often see (and chase) rabbits where my mum worked and I remember with glee the time I saw a hedgehog ambling through the garden at dusk.

gatekeeper and marjoram flower

Also exciting was the time that I found a pile of owl pellets which I took to school so we could dissect them. We were able to recostruct some rodent skeletons from them. Proof that all kinds of waste material can be educational (though it is now recommended that you microwave owl pellets to sterilse them before dissection in order to kill off any nasty rodent infections – don’t say you weren’t warned).

As I have grown up and have less time for tearing around in fields (a crying shame, if you ask me), I have not let go of my love of wildlife. Train journeys have proved to be great for spotting all kinds of unlikely birds and animals that I would not otherwise expect to see. Last year’s canal boat holiday was another great way of seeing nature close up (the wren that flew past my nose being a notable highlight).

Bee and marjoram

But part of the reason for being a gardener, and particularly for being the kind of gardener that I am, is to try to encourage nature into my little patch of land. OK, we don’t have the room to grow a wildflower meadow and raised beds full of regimented vegetables are a long way from being a wildlife reserve, but the few close encounters with snails, birds, foxes, squirrels, butterflies (yes, even those pesky cabbage whites), frogs, bees, spiders (yes, even those), mice and anything else that’s made its way to us are exactly what I hope for. Long may they continue.

How about you? What is your relationship with the wildlife around you? Do you love the animal visitors to your garden? Or are they unwelcome interlopers to be deterred with every tool in your amoury? Do tell.

Filed under: Nostalgia,Wildlife — Clare @ 6:12 pm

5 responses

  1. Soilman

    ‘Fraid I’m a bit brutal about wildlife that eats my veg. Slugs and snails are murdered on sight, and I WOULD kill pigeons if a) I had a gun, and b) I didn’t live in a town where people would complain.

    But otherwise I love all Creatures great and small. Except foxes. Why people insist on feeding them in towns baffles me; they smell disgusting. Plus they leave their crap all over our pavements and flowerbeds. It astonishes me that the same folks who feed them are often the ones who assiduously clear up their own dog’s mess when they go out walking…

    (25.08.09 @ 9:54 pm)

  2. Clare

    A characteristically warm and fuzzy comment from you, Soilman! ; )

    (25.08.09 @ 10:14 pm)

  3. Clive

    I thought you might have mentioned the walks I took you on when you were a very young teenager. Remember we visited the landfill sites of Hampshire!

    (26.08.09 @ 12:45 pm)

  4. Clare

    Ah yes! How could I forget?

    (26.08.09 @ 3:09 pm)

  5. HappyMouffetard

    That post could have been me. I rue the fact that since I have “grown up”, I don’t spend enough of my life on my stomach watching grasshoppers :(

    (31.08.09 @ 9:13 am)

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