Dragonfly at close quarters

This beautiful creature, hard to photograph flying by the pond, posed for a few seconds when it was trapped in the house, before we let it out.

20130829-124228.jpg

Advertisements

Moles – confrontation or collaboration?

More mole hills this year than ever before, perhaps because the revived pond is keeping the earth softish rather than the iron-hard summer ground of the past. Neat little hills all over the meadow area and round the pond.

Thought: let’s work with the moles, not against them (and anyway they’re too cute to enjoy hiring the mole catcher). Because the garden has a wild meadow area left over from the days when this was a farm, we don’t go in for lawns, apart from a small stretch behind the house. Rather, we have graded areas: wild meadow grass cut twice a year, merging  into slightly more cultivated grass cut three or four times a year and then into the pond-side grass, which is cut every two or three weeks, with the mower set at 10 cms, rather than traditional lawn height.

20130826-185854.jpg

The edge of the meadow on the left – seen just after its summer mow – merges with the more cultivated grass on the right.

This system does mean weed weed encroachment is a bit of a problem, especially in the rougher grass, where we spend time after mowing each summer digging out the worst of them.  So let’s use the mole hills, because no finer grass sowing tilth could be made by a gardener. Just after rain last week, we raked the molehills flat, sowed grass seed in them, raked it in and trampled it flat. The seed is  a mixture of wild meadow grasses (£14 a kilo, so expensive) except round the pond, where a cheap utility lawn grass is used.

Today we’ve gone over it again and done the same with the new molehills. It is interesting that, after a week, new hills account for no more than a tenth or so of the total we dealt with last week, which were the accumulation of the moles’ work in the long grass over the summer. So we should be able to keep ahead of them. The theory is that alongside regular digging out of the most aggressive weeds we will in due course increase the proportion of meadow grass and have a healthier meadow for the orchids, cowslips and fritillaries.

As we have evidence that water voles (aka water rats) are around the pond, all we need is a badger and we’ll be playing ‘Wind in the Willows.’ It’s a warm feeling, collaborating with moles! Sadly, a toad foolishly jumped into a bucket of very dirty water last night and we found him, expired, this morning.