A great piece of turf (and some advice about snakes)


Today I discovered that Bella is scared of snakes. But first, you’ll remember our fairy mounds, illustrated above with the beautiful Robbie, who loved to sit on them and soak up the sun. These mounds also attract bees and frogs .  They are a little eccentric but we all love them.

This time last year, there was a disagreement with an assistant gardener (maybe nearer to a stand up fight if you can do that by text) about whether a fairy mound could be removed to make space for a strawberry bed. The fairy mound won. Today I was thinking about strawberry beds again and consulted my senior assistant ‘Do you think I could just move the fairy mound?’ ‘Don’t be ridiculous’, he said, as he disappeared to fix a bike in the kitchen. Reader, I moved it.

I dug into it and discovered that inside the mound looked a little like Durer’s ‘Great piece of turf


The fairy mound was constructed from turfs removed during the creation of the garden pond and, with a little effort, the mossy top more-or-less just peeled off. Underneath was a pile of beautiful, crumbly soil


So I piled up the soil again in another spot, kept some of it behind in a bucket to add to the strawberry bed, dug out a bit more of the space where the mound had been, adding a few more turfs to the pile and put the mossy lid back on top:


It looks a little unhappy but I’m fairly confident that it will all regrow nicely. I planted a campion near the top to deter any angry texts from my wandering assistant.

This is when I discovered that Bella is scared of snakes. I got a piece of rope out of the shed to help me design the new strawberry bed. Seeing the rope, Bella fled to the house and sat there hissing at the rope. She could not be enticed to play with it.


Here you can see her tail as she rushes past the rope. My trusty adviser, the Reluctant Gardener, explains:

‘Another good cat scarer is a length of old bicycle-tubing just left lying carelessly on the ground. It is, as cat lovers know well, next to impossible to know what a cat is thinking, but I think she thinks that the trail of tubing is a snake’ (Ethelind Fearon, 1952,’The Reluctant Gardener’, p83)

Perhaps a liberal distribution of snakes around the raised beds will keep her off. I suspect not but it might be worth a try.wp_20170212_12_41_48_pro

And now I have a lovely strawberry bed, with fairy mound beside it to attract bees, frogs and other beneficial wildlife. Then it started to snow, so I’ll leave planting out the strawberries for another day.


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