A Jar of Moles

Here is a Jar of Moles from the Grant Museum of Zoology in Fitzrovia.

Having seen them, as I last did when accompanying an arty daughter on a sketching trip, it makes the job of phoning the vermin man or woman, impossibly hard.

Since we took the garden on almost a year ago, I have been gazing indulgently at the mole holes in the lawn. We have even used the finely sieved soil for potting up plants. But now my trust has been breached. For while I watch the horse tail ramp onwards seemingly unchecked, my pride and joy has been my kitchen garden, finished at last:  immaculate gravel paths around the perimeter and crossing at the centre, edged with metres of castellated ‘Chester’ tiles, mostly salvaged from the Mainland and low, mellow-coloured walls of yellow brick around the vegetable beds, also carted across the Solent, at great expense.  Now, humped runnels of gravel cross my paths, terminating in a spike of builders sand and further along, a neat cone of black, fine soil.

My patience is worn down. They are not allowed here.

Even so, the weeks pass and I have yet to ring….

Despite the set back, we carry on regardless in our planning for the kitchen garden.  We have decided not to begin production for another year, but to establish the apple and pear espalier walkway down the centre path of the garden. All are maiden whips, impossibly small, but the varieties I wanted were not available as more mature trained plants, so it will be 5 years at least before we have the shape we need . We will plant the soft fruit fans against the walls, finally organising a modern vine-eye system to run between the lovely old nails (‘The Joy is in the Small Things’) and we will sow a green manure crop in the beds whilst we continue to fight the weeds in other areas of the garden. Alasdair is debating which nitrogen-fixer is the most superior.  The crab-apple step- overs, salvaged from the Winchester garden (‘The Sorrow of Selling Houses’), will edge a strip of lawn that runs along the bottom boundary of the kitchen garden, a place where one day I hope to sit and soak up the evening sun. There might be a few specimen trees in this lawn, certainly a Medlar and the variety ‘Nottingham’ to remind me of home, the simple blossom being the most beautiful, even if the fruit is rather unappealing to me, bletched or not.

There will be an oak fruit cage at the corner of each of the four beds, six sided, topped with finials copied from those we found in the potting shed and which come from the eaves of the gardener’s cottage.  I fancy raspberries in one, black and red currants in another. I am not an experienced veg grower, but my gooseberries do fine outside a fruit cage, so perhaps strawberries in the third? I had thought of chickens in the fourth, but my ambitions for chickens wax and wane. My Mother is an avid chicken fancier but I am warned by my children not to embark on this hobby, lest I too end up spoon feeding a cockerel in my kitchen over the winter. It’s a sobering thought and as I allegedly get more like her, it might be wise if I confine myself to a chicken shaped tea-cosy and eggs from the farmer’s market.

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