War Of The Voles


This afternoon I made a rather pathetic effort at clearing up some of the Head Gardener’s laborious pruning cuttings, then allowed myself to be diverted with a camera.

Leaving the house by the stable door gives a forked view down the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

We are led under the wisteria arbour which also supports a couple of clematises,

and beneath which lie other plants such as fuchsias and dahlias.

Other clematises scale the gazebo.

White sweet peas thrive on the arch linking the Weeping Birch Bed with the raised bed opposite.

Elizabeth's Bed

Elizabeth’s Bed is nicely fluffed up;

Bacopa in Florence's basket

Florence sculpture’s basket of bacopa is responding well to careful nurturing;

Phlox, petunias, lobelias, begonia

happy planting is displayed along the Shady Path where phlox in the bed; and petunias and begonias in the basket above  blend in a diagonal punctuated by lobelias.

Bees on alliums

Bees are particularly attracted to these purple alliums.

Clematis in Rose Garden

A true blue clematis climbs the potting shed in the Rose Garden;


and a bright red snapdragon hangs by the kitchen window.

One evening recently Jackie spotted a little furry creature that we thought to be a vole. She has been nurturing an ailing Bishop of Llandaff  in the New Bed for a while now. This morning the whole plant had disappeared. Just behind the vacant space was a tiny tunnel. A vole had struck. They are apparently partial to dahlia corms. So far, others in the bed have survived. Apparently there is little defence possible against their tiny teeth.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak on Mexican burgers, fresh salad, coleslaw, and French fries. the meals were very good, as was the service. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Ringwood’s best.


  1. I saw my first vole while on this recent holiday. It was in the Rose Garden in Portland. Cute little thing. Later at the B&B I mentioned it to my host who thought I was saying it was in his garden. He practically had a fit. I’m sure he has perfected an eradication technique.

  2. I have a serious question for the head gardener. The back acre of our garden is all woodland which my husband has let be as natural as possible for the sake of the wildlife and we benefit daily from his decision with the variety of birds and animals that we see. We have, though, made a path this year (just mulched – nothing fancy) to the orchard at the top and a low path that means you can walk easily in the trees. I want to make arched entrances at either end of the path and grow something pretty over them. Does Lady Knight have any suggestions for climbers that might work well – rose, clematis, wisteria, something else entirely? We are in zone 5/6 US and the temperature extremes would be low 100sF down to -30sF. The arbours would be semi shaded on account of the existing large trees. Thank you and no rush – you are both very busy, I know but I would be really grateful for the advice ?

    1. Hi there Osyth, Seems to get very cold where you are! and Hot! Still it should be possible to grow Clematis and roses, I would also think that a climbing Hydrangea would look good too. You need to have a wooden archway for the Hydrangea’s little suckers to cling to! but they are worth it. Roses that tolerate shade are few but I have a few that are good, my all time favorite is Zepherine Drouin, not only a good climber and a repeat flowerer, but thornless too, to add to her beauty is a strong scent and a dark pink flower, I have had success in a shady spot with a rose called ‘little Rambler’ pale pink clusters of scented flowers, repeat flowering and not too rampant as it grows to only about 8 feet tall. Clematis that I favour are the viticella type, less likely to get clematis wilt and no pruning needed unless you want to, then you just cut it down to about a foot and let it power away again. The Polish varieties are of course very hardy as it gets chilly in Poland, I have a few purple ‘Polish Spirit’ dotted around the garden SO reliable, ‘Warsaw Nike’ Is another. Also Duchess of Albany pink tulip shaped flowers this needs cutting down to a pair of buds 8 inchs off the ground in spring, or you can do what I do and only remember to do this once in 3 years! Or any of your choice of course.
      Rambling rose ‘Super Elfin is a scarlet non stop flowering rambling Rose (no scent) that I have had success with. Virginia creeper could work for you too can get over powering and needs cutting back, but does give that lovely Autumn colour. What about a variegated small leaved Ivy? Goldheart or White Wonder? I hope that all this might help you, and I wish you the best of luck. Jackie.

      1. I often comment that if the occupants of The Mayflower hadn’t been hated and despised and in desperate need of their own place to be themselves that they would have gotten back on board and headed back to Europe. The climate here is extreme. The figures I give are highs and lows that I have personally experienced here. I would be much happier with a little less on either end! Of course we do get incredible Fall colour so I really shouldn’t be so rude about the climate.

        Thank you so much, Jackie for this advice. I had not though of Hydrangea which thrive here and indeed would look magnificent. The roses you recommend look lovely and I do like the idea of an ivy. There is enough food for thought here and enough variety of ideas to keep us busy deciding and spending some jolly time cruising the garden centres for the plants. I am indebted ?

  3. The first photo on the right shows a frog of colour: it must be very rewarding to have so much colour and interest in your garden.

  4. It’s all so gorgeous and magazine worthy. Shame about your Bishop of Llandaff. But you know, if the vole was writing this he might say, “last night I dined on Bishop of Llandaff and a nice Chianti 😀 Cheers dears 😀 x Boomdee

  5. What amazing and wonderful photographs of flowers. I’d be crazed by the vole. We have a constant battle with chipmunks who ravage anything newly planted. They are so cute, but absolutely a menace.

  6. Well now that is one varmint Texas doesn’t have! But still your garden is so gorgeous! It’s my peace and joy at the end of the day now that mine has few offerings left until fall arrives. Love and hugs, N 🙂 <3

  7. Oh! I’ve figured it out! You and Jackie live in The Garden of Eden! 😉 🙂 Well, your garden definitely rivals The G of E! 🙂

    I’ve never met a vole in person, but he sounds hungry and pesky! 😮 Peskier than Russel Crow! 😛

    I love seeing the busy bees doing their gardening! Great photo! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  8. I wouldn’t bother trying to fight the vole. As a veteran of World War Squirrel, it isn’t worth it. Just enjoy what he leaves you.

  9. I do love the little Snapdragons Derrick, and thank you for the gorgeous tour amongst your glorious flowers, It’s always a pleasure for me.

  10. Derrick, I’m so happy you became diverted with your camera and gave us a treat of the garden! It’s breathtakingly beautiful … so many flowers! Despite the heat! I love them all and looked at these slowly, savouring the images, almost inhaling the fragrance. This is the first year I haven’t had sweet peas in the garden so I paused and admired these, grateful to see them!

  11. Thank you for the garden tour, Derrick. Your photos do a great job of capturing how beautiful it is–though I’m sure it’s even more so in person.
    Too bad about the voles. I’m sure it’s frustrating.

  12. Everything looks great, Derrick – kudos to the Head Gardener!! But I have never seen red snapdragons and yours are so striking – remarkable!

  13. Well I had to quickly consult Dr Google for that post Derrick. We don’t have voles down here. At least now I know how to recognise, trap and kill the blighters! Happy gardening.

  14. Your Wisteria Arbour sounds beautiful, I often envisage a long Arbour dripping with Wisteria and the fragrance consuming the senses. My efforts at the moment is trying to get Daphne to grow and flowers, can’t recall you mentioning Daphne in your garden Derrick.

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