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Unwelcome wildlife

Posted: Monday 23 January 2012
by Adam Pasco

[...] my garden has become a bit of a wildlife haven, but unfortunately not all wildlife is welcome.


squirrel jumping towards platform

Like many gardeners I'm proud to have created a wildlife-friendly garden. Shrubs and hedges provide shelter for birds, the nesting box on my silver birch has seen four or five broods of blue tits over the years, and log piles at the back of borders provide a home for all sorts of creepy crawlies.

I make masses of compost, recycling everything I can, and rarely resort to pesticides. Flowers are selected to provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other insects. Throughout autumn I leave apple windfalls around the garden for blackbirds to peck at. I feed the birds all-year-round, and regularly top up my birdbath.

So, as you can see, my garden has become a bit of a wildlife haven, but unfortunately not all wildlife is welcome. Of course I have to net raspberries to keep some fruit for me, and I’ve just covered my winter brassicas - they’d been discovered by pigeons.

I could do without squirrels, but can't really stop them happily digging holes in my lawn to bury or retrieve nuts.

But when it comes to mice I really have had to take action. My cozy shed proves irresistible to them, as does my garage, and I have had to resort to putting down traps. Retrieving a lovely new roll of bubble insulation recently, I discovered one side had been nibbled through, making the whole roll useless.

Last week I caught two mice in my shed, and the next night two in my greenhouse. Could there be more out there? You bet there are. Only a series of carefully placed traps can keep mice at bay, preventing these vermin becoming an even greater problem.

Yes, it does go against the grain of my wildlife-friendly ethos, but there is a clear distinction between creating a 'space' for wildlife and creating a 'garden'. In a wild space anything goes, but I'm sharing my garden with wildlife, and have to make a distinction between the wildlife I want, and creatures I don't.

Sorry, but my garden has to be a vermin-free zone. Now I've just got the slugs and snails to deal with. Oh yes, and the squirrels.



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happymarion 24/01/2012 at 09:32

The neighbours cats are my allies against mice, Adam. They are all well fed at home but just love scouting round my garden and jump up on the manger and through the open window into the garage which is my potting shed and store. I do have to put netting over my tulip bulbs to deter the squirrels and pull out loads of oak and hazel saplings where they have buried food and forgotten about it, but I love the company of the wildlife in my garden. You are so right, however, so many people confuse wildlife gardening with the wild garden which is quite different. We "Wildlife friendly gardeners " are choosing to share our garden with wildlife but, being true gardeners, we are subjugating nature to suit our needs as homo sapiens.

happymarion 24/01/2012 at 09:32

The neighbours cats are my allies against mice, Adam. They are all well fed at home but just love scouting round my garden and jump up on the manger and through the open window into the garage which is my potting shed and store. I do have to put netting over my tulip bulbs to deter the squirrels and pull out loads of oak and hazel saplings where they have buried food and forgotten about it, but I love the company of the wildlife in my garden. You are so right, however, so many people confuse wildlife gardening with the wild garden which is quite different. We "Wildlife friendly gardeners " are choosing to share our garden with wildlife but, being true gardeners, we are subjugating nature to suit our needs as homo sapiens.

oldchippy 25/01/2012 at 20:08

It's not squirrel's digging hole's in my grass but crow's and magpie's looking for food ,I only hope it's grub's they are looking for we had a large amount of crane-fly last year.

Jumbo56 27/01/2012 at 16:48

I really could have written your article Adam...I feel just the same about many things, well except for the slugs and snails, who are welcome to stay in the wild part of my garden, to encourage hedgehogs and thrushes to the banquet they provide, but I have been watching our 'squirrel free' bird table this afternoon, and three starlings dessimated the food we'd put out in just a few seconds. Then a woodpigeon found the holly berries I had left for the fieldfare and such-like. At the end of the day we are only keepers of our little plots, and in the same way that we nurture flowers and pull the 'weeds' which are only flowers in the wrong place,so we try and form our space into havens for wildlife and h'e'aven for us. Keep up the good work.

Adam Pasco 30/01/2012 at 11:49

Thanks Jumbo 56. Another mouse caught in the shed at the weekend! How many more are there?

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