When You Garden You’re Never Alone

Though gardening often feels like a solitary activity, I’m never alone for long. Our mostly indoor cats can’t resist the view of me kneeling on the ground.  One, two and maybe even three of them will venture out to see what I’m up to.

Thursday, as I planted and pruned, mulched and swept Lindy was on the scene.  She sits on the warm stones and keeps an eye on things, moving when I move to other parts of the garden.

lindy on the stones

Lindy keeps watch

After tending to the basil and tomatoes on one side of the garden, I moved to the fence line to prune the dead growth on my fern. As I stepped down from the rock wall, I heard a loud fluttering.  I’m used to the sound of bees and hummingbirds, but this was different.  Within seconds of focusing on what looked like a huge moth, a hummingbird swooped down in the same direction.

Oh darn…where is my camera when I need it?

As the hummingbird flew away, the ‘moth’ settled into the clippings of my recently pruned fern.  Not wanting to lose track of the visitor, I looked over my shoulder for my camera, then walked backwards to get it.  Camera in hand I attempted multiple shots of the wings in flight.  That thing moved fast!  It zipped around the garden, plant to plant and finally disappeared behind the flax.

moth

Hovering moth

moth at rest

Moth at rest

Now I’m full of questions.  What was that winged visitor? Was it food for the hummingbird or prey?  Was it just a coincidence that they flew at each other, before they both moved away?  Where is my backyard manual when I need it?

I finally managed a few shots, then continued with my work.  That’s when a squirrel in the pine tree started telling me off.  It isn’t a sound you can ignore.  I made my cluck-cluck-clucking sound but he wasn’t impressed.  There was nothing left to do but take his picture and walk away.

squirrel

Garden patrol

As I packed up my tools and readied for my appointments, I tried to imagine things from their perspective.  They spend far more time in the garden than I do.  Suddenly a middle-aged red-head with long green gloves and sharp tools is bobbing up and down among the plants. I am the interloper, not them.

Lindy was back inside by now, preferring the soft rug and the cooler temps.  Or, maybe she took the hint. The moth and hummingbird were probably working as a team, hoping  to chase me off.  When that didn’t work, the squirrel started shouting from the tree tops: “Can’t you take a hint?”

Excellent team work. I wonder if they think they’re rid of me for good?

Have you ever been told off by a squirrel?

32 thoughts on “When You Garden You’re Never Alone

  1. I never have been told off by a squirrel – in truth the only squirrels I have ever seen were the ones in King James Park by Buckingham Palace where we used to stop for lunch quite often – from memory they were little red squirrels who constantly chattered to each other as they raced up and down tree trunks – but my memory is often mistaken these days and they may well have been little brown squirrels 🙂 Despite the fact that I lived in the countryside of Kent for a few years, I never saw squirrels there – plenty of foxes and badgers though and that was wild-life enough for someone from a country where feral animals of that size don’t commonly live amongst the populace.

    I have also never seen a moth with that shape of wing before – is it common to you?

    I have been building a tiny ‘wilderness area’ in my pocket-handkerchief for the past three months in the hopes of attracting a hedgie or two to come live with us – no luck as yet and Orlando is highly miffed that his favourite sun-spot has been usurped for other purposes. He has taken to settling into one of the lettuce containers instead and I am constantly amazed that the lettuces are still trying to grow despite having a 9 kg cat lie prone on them for hours on end! Needless to say they will not be making it into my evening salad mix 🙂

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    • You’ve lived in many places, Pauline. I would love to sit down with you and chat about all of it. I’ve been to England once. My father was born in Oldham. His sister, my Aunt Alys, lived in Middlesex for years till she died in 2008 at the age of 95. I would love to go back.

      Funny, but I don’t remember squirrels on my trip. I remember the blackbirds more than anything, but surely I saw more than that. Memory is a funny thing. Without photos, I fear even more of it would be lost.

      I’m not familiar with the term ‘pocket handkerchief’ other than the real deal. Is this a small area you are referring to?

      Your lettuce is putting up a good fight.

      Now that your autumn is in full swing, will the sun move to another spot in your garden, one better suited to his highness?

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      • Alys ‘pocket handkerchief is my term for my garden – as that is it’s relative size. It measures approx 1.5 x 2 metres total. In terms of gardens of the usual size it is indeed relative to a pocket handkerchief don’t you think? My options of moving containers about has now become severely limited as the sun visits any part of the garden for a shorter and shorter space of time, soon it will be gone altogether for three months. His Kingship is claiming the only bit of sunshine left to him – he was not pleased that I favoured a tub of lettuce over him. He won 🙂

        On memory – I so agree! Mine is busy these days giving me ‘facts’ that I confidently cite as true and correct only to discover later that no, indeed it is quite something other….. I think I need to start taking ginko biloba [I think I got that right] which is supposed to be very good for the memory! I wonder if I’ll remember to buy any? 🙂

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        • LOL, Pauline! That made me laugh.

          If you ever splurge one day on a smart phone, you will come to love the Notes feature. I keep all sorts of things stored there now, then always have it. I collect recommended movies and books, my husband’s contact solution (can never remember) sizes of things, things I want to look up. It’s quite handy, not to mention all in one place.

          I understand about small garden spaces as that’s what I’ve had the majority of my life. Often small *and* temporary in a rental, so things stayed in containers. Vertical space is your friend.

          His Kingship knows how to live large. Ah, the life of a pampered cat.

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    • Oh…one more thing: I’ve never seen a moth like that. It was quite large, fast and behaved differently than the moths that we often see at night, thumping up against a light post. They’re smaller, mostly white and fairly quiet. I’ve been searching ‘moths of northern California this afternoon, but have yet to pin point this one. I’m fascinated.

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  2. I love the photos and your thoughts on the garden. I have been watching from my window the wisteria start to bloom and the new occupants that have moved in to the bird house. With your encouragement it is time to leave the warmth of my indoors and go outside and jump into this new spring.

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    • Good for you, Charlie! I’m happy to hear that your bird house has a new resident. I’ve not been successful with mine. They’re either too low, or simple not appropriate to our area birds. We’ve had nests in the yard before. They’re always a special treat.

      I love wisteria! Lucky you.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. When you said you were never alone in the garden, I thought bugs, then cats. I forgot squirrels and birds. That was my place to be truly alone with nature. They didn’t ask what’s for dinner. They got their own. My squirrels never bothered with me but chatted it up when my sweet Schatzie was out. She would watch them for hours, keeping them up their trees. I’ve told you the tales of them carrying away anything in the yard to make nests with. Those little guys are STRONG! Your photos are phenomenal! How you do it, I’ll never know. Such a steady hand and lucky capture. Impressive.

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    • Marlene, thanks for reminding me about your squirrels carting things off. That was a great story. I should have included all the spiders I saw but I’ll save that for another post.

      I love the name Schatzie. How sweet.

      Thank you so much for your always-gracious compliments. I try to be as unobtrusive as possible and quick. I miss far more shots than I capture, or they simply come out blurry. I keep trying though, as I enjoy it so much.

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  4. No squirrels here. I did see some at a B and B near Nottingham England. The owner had a beautiful garden, just as you imagine an English garden should be. However, she battled squirrels and said that the grey species was out competing the more gentle red ones.

    Our garden pests are possums. Gardening talkback is often taken up with how to stop possums eating the roses. (The other popular topic is problems with lemon trees.)

    I love that moth. I paint with people who love to paint insects, and I am sure that this one would be a great one for them (not me 🙂 ) to paint.

    Happy gardening.

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    • How interesting, Ann. I’m sure our planet is out of balance in many ways, with one species overwhelming another.

      We have opossums from time to time, and occasionally raccoons. I didn’t know the possums ate roses. They’re supposed to like snails, but you would never know it by the steady supply in my garden. The raccoons lift up the grass to eat the grubs below, then they splash around in the fountain to wash their hands. They’re quite fastidious.

      If you ever get a chance to show that moth to your painting group, I would love help identifying it. There are so many to choose from in my Google search.

      I was amazed at its size, too.

      Thanks, Anne.

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  5. LOL! It’s the blackbirds and a nesting Great Tit that are telling me off at the moment when I get too close to them! That moth looks like a hawk or sphinx moth – possibly a White-Lined Sphinx Moth. We get several different ones here, but don’t know if you have the same ones. Here’s a link I found for you: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Hyles-lineata
    Hope you can get some gardening done without being chased away this weekend! 😉

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    • What a beautiful site. I think you’re right, but now I wish you were wrong. The caterpillars like to host on tomato plants. I hope this adult was just passing through. Maybe it’s a he and not a she about to host her larvae on my tomatoes. Time will tell. I’ll keep you posted.

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  6. Party in Nirvana! You have the nicest friends keeping you company. I love that Lindy follows you from one job to another, that’s really cute. I don’t know the name of your moth but I’ve seen similar ones in Maui. They’re huge. We watched one in the pool one night. We thought at first it needed help. Then we saw it bounce onto the pool deck, flutter it’s giant wings, then hop back in the pool. This happened several times. We decided it was bathing (?). We’d get a type of giant moth at the lake sometimes. They actually looked furry. Karen called them Butterfly Moths.
    I hope well find some squirrels in our new yard. I know they can be a nuisance, but I just love watching them and hearing them chirp. I wonder if it’s more a ‘warning’ to other squirrels near by that, ‘there’s a giant red head in the garden again’. More than it’s chirping at you. That’s what I’ve been told anyways. Poor Paula is missing out. You know what else I remember P saying in our ‘Hangout’??? Some of their birds just walk around the forest. They’ve actually forgotten how to fly. Since they have no threats, it’s ok for them to just walk around. Isn’t that wild? I just love hearing all about garden days in California and New Zealand. Having so much fun today 😀

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  7. Why have I typed Paula and not Pauline??? I’m totally not use to a work day….LOL So busy today, non-stop. Man the poor girl I work with on Saturdays is such a gem. I must’ve asked her a question every minute…..I’m learning lot’s, fast 😀

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  8. I don’t think I have ever been told off by a squirrel, but the birds sure do a number on me when I am outside with the dogs. And as you know, the deer always stomp their hoofs at me when I get too close. You captured so many beautiful photographs in your garden today! I got a bee in flight once and could not believe how in focus it was, because I ran after I took the photo!

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