Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Furry Foes

Hours spent gardening: 1 (cannot think of any gardening jobs suitable for August, what am I missing?)
Slugs killed: 3
Plants bought: 0 (wrong time of year I guess)
Gardening magazines purchased: 1

Slugs have been on the wane here so my attention has turned to next door's cats who like to have a dump on my borders.  On warm summer days I peep through the orange fence to spy on them sunning themselves on their lawn.  They have a little routine for these moments: relax, have a stretch and then think, "I know, I'll go and have a crap next door."  No wonder that I broke one of my mantras this week ("Claire, thou shalt not covert more gardening magazines!") when I saw this month's feature in Gardener's World: KEEP CATS OFF YOUR BORDERS.  It shouted to me off the shelf.  This turned out to be worth the money as there were a few things I didn't know about cat repelling, such as putting a string of wire on top of your fence.  Unfortunately this isn't really suitable for a small garden unless I want it to look like Her Majesty's Holloway Prison.  Sprinklers are also mentioned but this is madness for someone without a lawn.   Here's my own summary of my anti cat tactics so far.  All tests were conducted under controlled clinical conditions.

Lion dung: 0/10
Anti cat spray: 0/10
Lemon peel (kindly suggested by the owners of the cats next door): 0/10.  Thanks for nothing.
Lavender (apparently a cat repellent): 0/10, goodness what I am doing wrong as I counted 11 lavender plants in the garden and it is only about 4 metres square.  (Can you have too much lavender?  A topic for another post I fear.)
Sonic cat repellent gadget:  this works really well so I give it 8/10.  The only thing is you have to be prepared to cash in  your life insurance policy to afford the new batteries it needs all the time but it is well worth it not to have animals going to the toilet in your veg patch.

Here's one of them about to launch an attack on my perennials:

Feigning disinterest

Caught in the act

The look of defiance

Apparently a water gun works well but I'd have to sit there all day like some sniper in downtown Sarajevo and people would think I was insane.  Also I'd have to give up my day job in order to watch the garden effectively but then I suppose I'd then have time to grow some seeds.

On a brighter note, this gladiolus callianthus came into flower this week.  I was a bit surprised as I thought all the bulbs had come up blind.  A massive sycamore and some squirrels are to blame (oh dear, I can feel all the new topics welling up inside of me!). It was supposed to be part of my late flowering scheme to avoid the August gap but as only one in fifteen or twenty of them planted have flowered I guess I won't repeat them next year.  Famous last words!

Gladiolus callianthus


  1. I would suggest digging a moat around your garden, filling it with water, and adding an alligator in case the cats can swim or own a boat. I'm betting it's effective 10 out of 10.

  2. Claire, The water squirt gun was what my neighbors suggested many years ago when I complained that their dog came over and sat under our bedroom window and barked furiously every morning at 5 a.m. when they let her out. I had the same reaction you did; I didn't see how having to sit outside every day at 5 a.m. squirting water at a dog's face was going to improve the quality of my life! -Jean

  3. Can't you cover your vegetables, so that the cats wont pee on them? ;O)That black cat looks so symphatic to me...(I love almost all the animals!)

  4. Thanks Casa, Jean and Sadun. LOL re: the moat, I wouldn't put it past those cats to own a tiny boat they can launch over the fence.

    You are right Jean, if we are outside at 5 am with waterpistols defending our patch, well we have surely lost the plot at that point!

  5. We have strays jump the fence and attack plants and critters in the pond...I have been known to use a garden hose but as yet have not found much but cayenne pepper spray that works..of course it has to be reapplied and can only work on things you don't want to eat.

  6. Hi Donna, have tried the cayenne pepper without success. It does work quite well for squirrels but I found I had to spray it pretty much daily.

  7. Just found you via comments over at Ryan's Garden - Am also gardening in N. London, also plagued by slugs and cat sh*t around my edibles (unbelievably, one of the tenants here exercises her cat around my vegetables!! Can't stop her as growing veg in communal garden) but also have to deal with foxes digging everything up or pooing. All this after years of fighting pigeons off my balcony plants *sigh* ... this gardening lark is more of a battle than a hobby.

  8. Hi, your Peacock Orchid (Callianthus/Acidanthera) is looking nice, I had to double-check the leaves in the picture as they're from another plant. They're supposed to be sweetly fragrant but the ones I have don't seem to have any smell to them at all do yours? I feel conned as I've read in several places that they're worth growing because of their fragrance, which is desperately lacking in ours.

  9. Hi Sunil, you are right about the leaves, think that's a rose. Sorry to confuse! Your comment about the smell had me out in the garden at 10 o'clock at night in my pyjamas to check. If it's any consolation, mine don't smell either.

  10. We have a water pistol at the ready in the kitchen, one of those battery operated ones, but the noise frightens the cats off before we have a chance to squirt - so perhaps it does work in a roundabout way. We have more trouble with badgers than cats.

  11. AH! my new method of researching garden blogs panned out ... just go by the name. This was a magnificent post. It was very informative. I have no cats or problems with cats or cats with problems but that one in your garden looks positively evil. I do have the occasional raccoon. Perhaps I should get a gun? Otherly, I am not at all surprised to find casa mariposa lurking....

  12. Racoons? I googled those just to check I had the right animal. They look difficult to contain although the goggly eyes are cute. You are correct, that cat is evil. Sadly he usually has the upper hand.

  13. I think the idea of the wire on the fence is brilliant! I have been spraying the 'frikken' black squirrel who munches all day long on my Hazelnut tree. Since the fence top is pretty well covered with a grape vine- the wire would be next to invisible. Will see if I can convince Hubby to give it a go tomorrow- tired of seeing the fence used as a rodent highway!