It sometimes strikes me just how inconsistent I am when it comes to nature. I want it there for me to enjoy but most of the time only on my own terms. So we have the joy of decent sized garden to enjoy in the brief fleeting moment that is the British summer. But it has to be on our terms. We decide what plants are supposed to grow in which place and – if we are being conscientious with our gardening at least – any interlopers are ruthlessly removed. Nightly, we participate in a massacre of gastropods as the seemingly unending supply of slugs fall foul of the minefields we have laid for them in protecting the less developed plants they seem so keen to munch. Even the lawn – which now has grass as one of the minority species – while turning up a number of meadow species is not allowed to do its stuff and has to be kept short and tidy – at least when we are expecting anyone to drop around.The fauna is equally invitation only, if we had the say on it. We just about tolerate the grey squirrels as they give me some satisfaction in their frustration that the bird feeder is in exactly the right location to prevent them getting on it via flying leap from any of the fences or trees. The fox that wanders through periodically is virtually welcomed with open arms or at least supressed squeals of delight. But if there is the slightest whiff of a rat, then the feeling is they have to be eliminated (actually I have a soft spot for rats. They are fascinating and intelligent animals, though the fear and loathing they are held in is entirely understandable practically and culturally. I also have trouble forgetting the time a poisoned rat lay, twitching, in the middle of our garden one afternoon. I tried to ignore it, thinking to clean up the corpse a few hours later, only to find the poor thing was still twitching. So I put it out of its misery with a spade. Not a great way to die for any animal.)
We’re delighted with some of our herbs this year. The Lemon thyme has gone bonkers and flowering energetically, as a result attracting hordes of honey bees and for the first time in our garden Meadow Brown butterflies. Bees are very welcome. But as reinforced recently by a trip to the cinema to see a Ian McKellen masterclass in ‘Mr Holmes’ wasps are not. Especially as they are starting to get aggressive and definitely have a thing for beer (I’m not up to double figures quite yet in terms of wasp drownings but I’m sure I’ll get there by the end of the summer, I’d rather not kill them, but if they are persistent there is not much choice). I’m not a wasp fan. Which is a bit of a shame as they seem to have built/be building a nest up in our roof – at least it looks like that is what is happening based on the activity under the eaves. What happens now rather depends on the insects. As long as they stay out of the main part of the house I can live with the nest being there now and will remove it in the winter. If they start becoming a pest more direct action will be needed. I do not want a repeat of an unsavoury episode when I used to rent half a house in Wraysbury and came back from a weekend away to find that a nest in the roof had been fumigated; and my room was completely covered with dead or dying wasps. Not the best thing to get home to, but then at times that house was a complete nightmare – even more so than the flat I had in Reading which was in the Red Light district and where one weekend there suddenly appeared an illegal rave in the back garden. That was an interesting evening (and early morning) but for another day. At the moment, the latest animal neighbours are skating on thin ice. Time will tell if they fall through it.