Not one of our cats, this time, but one of the many that visit our tiny cottage garden. This one often nests in the top of our ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) and can sleep up there for hours. (Click on all photos to embiggen/bigify).
The second in a very occasional series about gardens I’ve designed. This one is a front garden of a thatched cottage in Berkshire.
Before I started work the front garden had two areas of lawn with a few old and sprawling hebes flanking a central old brick path. Behind these were some areas of flint cobbling. The main part of the thatched cottage is very old, and it was important that the path and cobbled areas be retained as they are part of the history of the house. As the central path is straight I decided to make small symmetrical parterre beds on either side.
The garden is north facing, and the area is on clay so can have quite a cold feel. As the old bricks of the house are lovely red and orange colours, I thought a fiery front garden might warm things up a bit, and so chose a colour palette to match. The fact that zingy oranges and reds are my favourite colours of all might have had something to do with the choice ….
It was fun watching the evolution of the garden:
A view from upstairs in the cottage:
The beds were edged with Ilex crenata, a species of holly that looks a little like box. We chose not to use box because of the problems of box blight.
I was awoken last night at about 11 (we’re usually early-to-bed merchants here) by a horrible noise I knew too well: a hedgehog in distress. Two summers ago, during a really hot and dry spell, we had several very upsetting nights when hedgehogs were being attacked by badgers in our neighbours’ gardens. Back then we were alerted by the awful shrieking calls of the poor hedgepigs in distress. Last night it was déjà vu – we’ve had a hot, dry spell; badgers can’t get at their normal prey food of worms because the ground is too hard and dry and the worms have gone right down into the deeper, moister soil, and so they turn to the hedgehogs for food.
So I threw on my clothes, grabbed my torch and went out in to the back yard, ready to chase off a marauding badger. What I found were two hedgehogs together, frozen in a sheepish ‘you haven’t seen me, right?’ attitude, but clearly in a state of, how can I put this delicately, interrupted love. So I turned the torch off, apologised to them, and came back to bed. As did they ….
For the next hour we were treated to not only the unearthly shrieks but also a heavy, guttural grunting. The hedgepigs were making sweet hedgehoggy love in among the plant pots. Fingers crossed there’ll be a good-sized batch of hedgepiglets arriving soon.