Monday, 23 March 2009


Oh the bastards!! The swine!!! The utterly despicable, scumbag, chickenshit, sonafabitch, dumber than dumb, fatuous, pointless grey-feathered, cooing, wing-flapping IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!!! What did I do to deserve such aimless destruction? 

Believe me, the only suitable place for a wood pigeon, Columba palumbus - even its name sounds stupid - is in a casserole where it should simmer gently, in a rich, red wine marinade, surrounded by diced carrots and parsnips

 Anemone nemorosa in a wood in the Pas de Calais.

I'll get back to those ornithological nightmares in a moment. Christopher Columbus, Columba palumbus - Aaaaaaahhhhh!

Let me explain: I'm trying to build up a collection of one of my favourite spring wildflowers, wood anemones, A. nemorosa. After years of careful husbandry which involved developing my tiny woodland garden, building up the leafmould in its soil, conserving just enough shade to provide the right conditions, I've managed to make these plants - even the more miffy varieties - reasonably happy.For half a decade, the collection has been quietly building up and, after two damp summers, some of the original purchases have developed into satisfying clumps, dottings and even, in a few cases, drifts. For the first time, this spring, we would have had something to boast about.

Sought after varieties like the semi-double white 'Hilda,' the almost greyish lavender 'Parlez-Vous' and larger than normal 'Leeds Variety' looked particularly promising, budding up nicely and just beginning to show colour.  Until the week end.  NNnrrrrraaaagggggghhhhhhh!

Anemone nemorosa 'Parlez Vous'

Anemone nemorosa 'Hilda'

That was when the blasted wood pigeons discovered them. The amount of nourishment, in a single, tiny wood anemone bud is negligeable. It probably takes more energy for the stupid bird to digest the thing, than the calories the bud can provide. But what do the damn pigeons know? And their call is irritating, too!  'Take two cows, David, take two cows, David, take. . .'  They can't even finish a sentence!

They got my cuckoo flowers, too.

And another thing! In various parts of my garden, particularly the damper bits, and in the grass, we have a flourishing population of Cardamine pratensis, cuckoo flower or lady's smock. And strike me a delicate colour of pale lavender mauve if those dratted, cretinous birds haven't eaten them, too. What is it with these pests????  I wish I hadn't handed in my shotgun, when we moved house, but there it is. All I can do is dance with rage and hope that the victim plants will recover and build up strength for a bigger, better display next year.  It'll probably just mean fatter wood pigeons.

Meanwhile, on a jollier note, the violets go from strength to strength. The common ones are blooming in all sorts of unexpected places and we now have the enchanting apricot coloured variety 'Sulphurea' in flower. I believe this one was spotted in the Vilmorin nursery, growing among the shrubs but that may be a myth. Whatever its origins, this is an extremely pretty sweet violet, but it lacks fragrance.

Viola 'Sulphurea' aka 'Sulfurea'

I'm listening to Brahms's Alto Rhapsody

And have just read  Matthew Wilson's brilliant piece in April's The Garden on new approaches to grass, lawns, and so on. I do love a lawn, I have to admit, but hate the idea of killing everything in sight, just to keep it green.  To take my mind of the bloody woodpigeons, on Sunday, I hijacked a few more square metres of one of my lawns to make more meadow.

This day in 2006 I was at Wisley helping to plan an NCCPG (Plant Heritage) conference.

What busy little lives we lead, don't we?  Bye bye!


  1. I'm just laughing at HappyMouffetard's link!

    Could you try a garlic wash? I had a problem with rabbits the year before last, and made a wonderfully pungent garlic gunge which I dribbled over the plants which were at risk. It worked! Don't know if wood pigeons like garlic or not ... (Fortunately I do!!)

  2. Gun for Hire:
    I have on my desk a smoking gun that has proved it's efficacy by despatching a squirrel this morning.
    It is at your disposal.

  3. my dog likes chasing pigeons. I take him up the allotment where I have conceived a similarly deep hatred for the fat, self-satisfied little bloaters - it's easier to net cabbages than woodlands though. Have you tried stringing threads through the trees or is that too horrid a suggestion? A friend of mine kept a heron off her pond (and away therefore from her fishies) by hanging large tin-foil plates from bits of string on sticks. Worked a treat, looked awful.

    am entirely with you on the casserole idea, though prefer HM's pigeon pie myself.

    I think you need to get that shotgun back, and fast. Or hire The Hat, of course.

  4. I'm supposed to be making a birthday card for Cbeebies but instead find myself vaguely obsessing about this problem. Could you channel a touch of Roald Dahl's 'Danny, the Champion of the World' and try drugging raisins...

    Not sure what you would do with multiple sleepy wood pigeons, but perhaps you could deliver them to Keith Flloyd and between you create a 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' pie.

    Must get back to my 'In the Night Garden' birthday card now...

  5. Just heard person from RSPB (an organisation whose motives I do not altogether trust) announce a rise is wood pigeon numbers as if that was a cause for much rejoicing.

  6. I've just spent the whole winter making chicken wire panels in order to protect brassicas at our allotment. I realise that a woodland garden littered with towers and boxes is not the most aesthetically pleasing solution for your garden but it might make an interesting conceptual garden.

  7. How completely fustrating. However thank you for introducing me to a wider variety of Wod Anemones than I knew existed.

  8. Danny the Champion of the World - thank you Dawn for reminding me of that. May I suggest a mixture of rum-soaked-raisin stuffed pigeon in a pie? May as well make lemonade when you have so many metaphorical lemons.

  9. I see james has mentioned the RSPB's report that wood pigeon numbers have risen - just to depress you this is by 824%!!!!

  10. Hi Nigel
    I say, I say I learnt some useful english strong words today. I do understand that you are frustrated, they are most annoying creatures. Your photos are a true joy to look at, so many lovely blooms.

    Bon appetite! :-) Tyra

  11. I envy you the established cuckoo flowers. We get them if we neglect to mow the lawn but they won't stay where I carefully move them too! I love your main photo by the way.

  12. I had been at a complete loss for words last year upon discovery of my little garden tragedy. After 4 careful years I managed to get 48 CARDIOCRINUM giganteum to germinate, make little bulby thingies, live through the silly Canadian winter(s) so that they were finally ready for the next stage of planting out. Squirrel Nutkin, dislodged, dismembered and dispatched all 48 of them. I'm still upset, but at least I know what to say. May I quote you?