A hedgehog warning?

Everything seems to be changing. For a start there are naked ladies in our garden under the medlar tree. I am, of course, writing about the autumn crocus. We planted the bulbs there and they suddenly appear every October in white and lilac colours. They are called ‘naked’ because the flowers appear without the leaves.

We are planting our other bulbs now, in pots, hoping for early cheer. I have chosen parrot tulips as I usually do. But for a change I have also put crown imperial fritillaries in an old metal watering can, which is doubling up as a plant pot. They look wonderful on the packet, and I am told that they attract blue tits for their nectar.

This is the time when creatures come into our houses taking shelter from the cold.  Some, like ladybirds, are welcome but craneflies called daddy longlegs are often not wanted.

Looking like big spiders they are coming in through open windows. They are hatching out from our lawn and laying their eggs in the soil. The eggs change into larvae called leather jackets which burrow down for the winter. Next year I will see starlings and blackbirds searching the grass for these larvae to eat. The message seems to be ‘don’t kill the cranefly’, even if you don’t like them, they are part of the birds’ essential supply.

Thinking of essential supplies, I have suddenly been taking a great interest in who provides our electricity and whether it is one of the big six companies. I have never bothered with switching my supply out of sheer laziness. And I have always felt guilty that I could be paying less. Now I am pleased that I did not bother. Unexpected alterations certainly seem to focus the mind. And we are having great changes recently. Now, nothing seems to be as it was and there is not a thing I can do about it except keep my fingers crossed and hope that all will be well.

The tactic of waiting and hoping has worked for the humble hedgehog here. We used to take hedgehogs for granted, like we all have seemingly on a grander scale with electricity and petrol but now they are all in short supply.

In the past when we looked out at dusk, there were hoglets all over the patio. Then they suddenly disappeared until, after four years of waiting, last night there was a hedgehog, fully grown and fit, running about. He darted off into the untidy undergrowth and fallen leaves. I wonder if we will see him again and if he came to warn us about our way of life. 

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

Will my bulbs live up to the promise of the picture?


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