At The Gate

march-9-2009-020-2The weekend had been warm and partly sunny. Signs of spring were everywhere. A golf outing for The Financier found us on the road north once again. The weekly visit to offspring Semi and her little LTB was spent out of doors for a change. Many blooms and some near blooms like these lilacs, Syringa vulgaris buds made for squeals of delight. The next day there was some catching up to do back home with household chores and fun at the computer. La la la la, we like to hum and sing while we work at the laptop sitting in the lazyboy facing the garden and deck. But lo! What is this?march-9-2009-squirrel-001-2Brazenness personified! Or make that rodent-ified! Just a couple of feet from cats and human, oblivious to our shrieks of horror through the triple paned sliding patio doors, this thief, this dastardly devil helps himself to the black oil sunflower seed set out for our feathered friends. What noirve!, to quote our hero Bugs Bunny.march-9-2009-squirrel-004-2Does he not see us? Does he not hear the clapping hands, stomping feet and voice yelling “Git!”? Apparently not.march-9-2009-squirrel-010-2Finally he scampers to the concrete wall end by the daffodils. It is warm outside, nearly 80 degrees F. Is his belly hot? He tries various positions with his stomach flat on the smooth surface of the block toppers before heading for the nearest tree. But fear not, faithful friends.march-7-2009-003-2The newly reinforced fairy gazebo is safe and secure from marauding madcap diggers such as our belly flopping friend. Click here to read about The Sisters Squirrel who showed the same disregard for human pleadings around this time last year.march-7-2009-004-2The gate was constructed using the same rot resistant Chamaecyparis prunings from the Gold Mops. A loop was woven to catch the end stake to hold the door fast against interloping unwanteds.march-7-2009-005-2But the entryway opens to welcome invited guests. We feel sure that the fairy folk will be able to open the door to gain entrance to their special place in the garden and we will check often to make sure they have locked it back up tightly when they leave. We mothers know how sometimes forgetfulness occurs when little ones are in a hurry. march-7-2009-011-2This should be the end to the ravaging of the mossy floor in the fairy gazebo. The creatures of the fairegarden one and all can coexist as the flowers of spring grace us with their beauty and power.
Frances
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This post is part of this month’s Garden Bloggers Design Workshop, gardening with wildlife hosted by the grand folks at Gardening Gone Wild.
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43 Responses to At The Gate

  1. janet says:

    rotten creatures!!!! though I do like the belly flat pose! Your lilacs look like frozen grape clusters.

    Hi Janet, thanks. As much as the squirrels annoy me with their digging everywhere, this guy doing the belly flop was pretty funny. The lilacs do look like grapes. My own bushes are in a little more shade and are not as far along as hers, but this will be a year with lilac flowers, one of my most favorite scents. Hooray!
    Frances

  2. Brenda Kula says:

    I love the squirrel atop the stone wall. Looks like he’s lounging around in relaxation! My pansies have pretty well pooped out for the year. That first photo looks almost like a butterfly, so perfect is it on either side.
    Brenda

    Hi Brenda, thanks. Isn’t he something? He just came back to the same spot today, but the cats are at the ready to give chase. So bold, he is. Our pansies are just now starting to pop back from the harsh winter we had. Hope it stays cool for a while so we can enjoy them before ours also poop out. The excitement for the lilacs is building.
    Frances

  3. Barbara says:

    Sitting in someone elses food dish is just altogether too much – the noirve indeed. Some of the best video never taken would be from a squirrel-cam of us shouting, stomping, waving and jesticulating. The fairy fortress is just grand. I could just eat those pansies, the colour is intoxicating.

    Hi Barbara, yes, he has crossed the line of civil behaviour. Just thinking of the squirrel recording our silliness makes us chuckle. Thanks about the fairy gazebo-igloo-fortress. It is a much tighter ship now. We shall see what happens next. The colors on those pansies really are heart melting, they are recent purchases that could not be resisted.
    Frances

  4. Phillip says:

    Great photos Frances!

    Hi Phillip, thanks. I loved your rose pruning lesson. :-)
    Frances

  5. Joy says:

    Oh my god Frances ! “Git” is the international “scat” phrase used by North Americans in general then ? That is too funny .. I have a huge silly grin on my face right now typing this out .. I love the “warm the belly pose” he/she took! I felt sorry for the birds this morning being shoved back and forth with cold and warm fronts having an argument here .. now we are having a heat wave +3 degrees !!
    The pansies are gorgeous in colour. Wish we had some colour here too : )

    HA Joy, that is pretty funny. Or maybe we should just yell “Fudge”? Or Bananas like Monica. That squirrel gets my goat, but he was funny trying to cool his belly, I assume that is why he was laying like that. Your poor birds. I do hope you got some niger seed for the finches. Those pansies jumped into my cart, even though we have many pansies planted last fall, none look anywhere near as good as those. Soon you will have some too, Joy, I am sure of it. Soon being relative of course. :-)
    Frances

  6. Dave says:

    Brazen is right, but a squirrel has got to eat! and what a tasty treat you left for him. Very creative gate!

    Hi Dave, thanks. They may have to eat, but that is what that walnut tree is for. And all the digging trying to find the buried walnuts. No bed is safe from the digging. I use rocks, sticks, rosemary, chickenwire. frost cloth. It is a never ending battle. But they should not be able to get into the fairy house. I hope.
    Frances

  7. annetanne says:

    Those squirrels aren’t shy at all, it seems!?
    We only have the very skittish red squirrels here. (The grey ones are becoming invasive in some parts of Europe, but they haven’t found our region yet.)

    Hi Anne, very bold, I’d say. I have stopped putting quite so much birdseed out after seeing an opossum on the deck one night eating it. It is the digging that is the worst problem caused by the squirrels. Nothing is safe, and the veggie garden is prime with all that nice soft soil. I have chickenwire and frost cloth and boards and sticks, all to keep them out until the small plants germinate and grow larger. Quite a nuisance.
    Frances

  8. cindee says:

    Oh how cute!!! I love the picture of the squirrel laying down. I love to see them do this in my garden. I know they love sunflower seeds too!!!(-: Thanks for sharing your pictures!!!!

    Hi Cindee, thanks. The relationship with the squirrels here is more hate hate than love hate, but he did look cute in that position. :-)
    Frances

  9. easygardener says:

    That squirrel is settling in for the long haul. Checking out potential sun bathing positions (lol).
    All squirrels suffer from selective deafness, only responding when the shouter comes within 10 feet or so. They only have contempt for shouters stuck behind double glazing and waving their arms helplessly. That’s when you see them laughing!

    Hi EG, it does look that way. He seemed to be smirking at me until I got up and opened the doors. I tried to wake Kitty up to give chase, but that is not good when he is groggy he is useless. Sometimes I throw stones from the gravel paths at them, that is when they fall down and roll on the floor with laughter. :-)
    Frances

  10. I’m sorry you had the opportunity to get such great shots of the squirrel. They need to learn respect! They need to learn fear! They need to be chased with a big stick. Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

    Hi MMD, I knew you could be counted on in the war against the digging daring disrespectful devils. Thanks for your support. They are winning the digging battles, but the veggies are protected with layer upon layer of chickenwire, frost cloth and sticks and stones. The fairy gazebo is reinforced. We are hoping to withstand the next onslaught.
    Frances

  11. Les says:

    Your lilacs look like dark purple pearls. Your squirrel looks like it would be good in Brunswick Stew. I have hated them since 8th grade when we had to draw names in biology for animals to do a report on. Others got sexy animals like chimps, giraffes or tigers – I got squirrels and would have been just as happy with rats or pigeons.

    Hi Les, thanks. Squirrel is eaten here in rural TN, but not at our house. We do have some large fat ones that would fill a pot nicely though. Personally, I have hated them since they ate through the power lines in my Tulsa neighborhood causing a power outage and a fire in out backyard. Tigers are the sexiest of the lot you named. :-) HA
    Frances

  12. Yes, seeing those cute, destructive rodents in my garden makes me wild too. Rotten little beggars.

    Hi Lisa, so glad you had no damage during that high wind and storms. Destructive is the term for the squirrels here also. Their mindless digging has ruined many a plant and baby seedlings, not to mention the bulbs. I now have chickenwire, etc covering everything. So much for the beautiful veggie patch.
    Frances

  13. marmee says:

    love love love the first and last photos. buds and blooms, yes! it is a shame these cute little creatures have to be so destructive. i hope the fairy house will be left alone except by the fairies themselves.

    Hi Marmee, thanks so much. I don’t mind the squirrels eating the birdseed so much, having finally gotten the rodent proof feeders that really work. They can only get to the scattered seed, and that is okay. But the digging in the beds of newly planted seeds and babies really gets me. And the digging in the fairy gazebo was the last straw. They don’t realize the tenacity of a gardener! :-)
    Frances

  14. Catherine says:

    What great pictures of the squirrel. They really are kind of clueless aren’t they? :) Your gate to the gazebo turned out really nice. Glad the fairies won’t be bothered by the squirrels now!

    Hi Catherine, thanks. He was so close, but the windows are dirty or it would have been better. One thing though, I can shoot while sitting in the lazyboy! The gate should be impetetrable unless critters can figure out the latch!
    Frances

  15. Awesome and I did see a fairy while I was here.

    Hi Anna, thanks and cool! :-)
    Frances

  16. tina says:

    I think maybe he was sunning himself. You know the winter has been a bit hard on a squirrelly squirrel, gotta get that tan and a bit of protein to sustain him for a bit. I think he says Thanks! for making it so nice at Fairegarden for him and all his siblings and cousins.

    Hi Tina, thanks, he might have been. It was funny to see him get in several positions on the block, that was the best photo. I think maybe it is too nice here for the squirrel family, even with my barricades. :-)
    Frances

  17. Diana says:

    Frances — Love, love that Fairy Gazebo — did you actually make that? It’s amazing. I know one little Fairy Momma who would love something like that! And your squirrel just looked so cute cooling his belly on the wall. I think it’s Mother Nature’s way of balancing things in nature — the way she makes the most annoying of garden pests as cute as can be!

    Hi Diana, thanks. Yes, I made it last year and beefed it up this year. You can read about that in the post previous to this one. You could make one yourself easily, with the Fairy Momma’s help of course. :-)

    BTW, your url is missing the *d* in garden. I always fix it, but wanted to let you know since you might be cutting and pasting it for the non blogger blog comment forms. We want your link to work! :-)
    Frances

  18. Racquel says:

    Such devilish creatures! They torture our dogs with their acrobats through the tree branches! :) Your new gate on the fairy gazebo looks like it should keep the unwelcome critters out. Those fairies sure are lucky you look out for them in the garden. ;)

    Hi Racquel, thanks. The squirrels cause a lot of headaches here with their digging in fall, winter and spring. There are several walnut trees in the neighborhood and they love to bury the nuts in all my beds and especially the containers! Walnut trees arise every spring in them and they are huge and hard to dig out without messing up the plantings. I have started using chickenwire and rosemary branches over newly planted spots but that really detracts from the look. :-(
    Frances

  19. VW says:

    What a clever little gazebo! Surely the fairies and other visitors will be delighted. Enjoy your spring, we’re still dreaming of it here. But anticipation is a great pleasure, supposedly, so we must be doubly blessed to have extra time to anticipate spring up here!

    Hi VW, thanks. We are enjoying spring at the moment, but winter will return at least a couple more times before it warms up for good. We have 5 winters in TN after things start growing. I forget all their names, but blackberry, strawberry and dogwood are three of them. A cold snap during the bloom times of those plants. Stuff here has to be tough enough to withstand sub freezing temps while in bloom. I loved all the books you are reading and hope for a speedy recovery from your pain. :-)
    Frances

  20. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a squirrel do that! How funny! When I was searching for a ‘squirrel proof’ bird feeder years ago, I remember standing, there staring at this huge wall of bird feeders with my mouth hanging open like a carp, and thinking to myself- ‘They’ve got all day long, every day, to figure out ways to get in, I have ten minutes to find the right one!’ So, unfair!

    Great photos as usual, Frances!

    Hi Tessa, thanks, and me neither. That is so funny about your selecting the squirrel proof feeder, and I can agree, some are more *proof* than others! We finally found one that truly worked at Smith and Hawken with a heavy wire cage around the seed tube. The little birds can get inside and the woodpeckers can reach the seed with their long beaks but the squirrels can’t seem to reach far enough through the openings.
    Frances

  21. gittan says:

    Hi Frances, so cute he looks laying there on his belly. I’d love to have some Swedish squirrels in my garden! Where we lived before, there were a squirrel family living in the tree outside my kitchen window on the second floor. Very amusing I have to say. But they aren’t so usual here.

    Hi Gittan, thanks. No squirrels, consider yourself lucky. Ours dig in any bare soil, ruining seeds and seedlings and unearthing the bulbs as they bury and then look for the walnuts so plentiful here. Be careful what you wish for! :-)
    Frances

  22. andré says:

    That’s a brave and funny squirrel! The belly-photo is amazing. I also like the gazebo. It’s seems that you’re enjoying spring now…!

    Hi Andre, thanks. He was so close to us, only about a foot from the cats standing on the other side of the glass. I guess he couldn’t see us through it. We have some warm temps right now, but we will have several more cold blasts before the date of our last possible frost, April 10. We don’t put our winter clothes away just yet. :-)
    Frances

  23. Daphne Gould says:

    I haven’t seen one little squirrel this spring. After last falls total lack of acorns, I’m wondering if they have all perished. They are very annoying in the garden, but they sure are cute with their antics.

    Hi Daphne, maybe not perished but just went elsewhere to better pickin’s? I would be sad to not see any, maybe, they are part of the garden experience.
    Frances

  24. Rose says:

    He certainly is a brazen little fellow! He must have thought he’d come to a fancy squirrel resort, with a buffet set out and the perfect lounge for suntanning:)

    So far I’ve been lucky the squirrels have stayed away from the house and the gardens. The old oak tree is at the end of the yard and was so laden with acorns last year, there is no reason for a squirrel to venture farther for a meal.

    Hi Rose, thanks. I loved your blogaversary post! You are lucky the oak tree satisfies your squirrels. Maybe they don’t feel the need to bury those acorns like they do the walnuts and chestnuts nearby here. It is funny to think of the squirrel suntanning! HA
    Frances

  25. Darla says:

    Great post! Our squirrels are getting very comfortable around here! Come by and enter to win!

    Hi Darla, thanks. Those darn squirrels. Your prizes look great! :-)
    Frances

  26. First of all, I love the gazebo and will have to incorporate this idea in my garden. I already have several wonderful fairy swimming pools and fountains around.

    Second, I relate to the squirrels problem. In spite of the fact that they are amusing and cute, we have a rule. No clever squirrels allowed on bird feeders. They can eat off the ground. If they are up on the feeders, they receive a greeting from our Daisy air pellet rifle. This does not kill them, only stings their behinds. This does not actually 100% keep them off the feeder, but it makes them super-aware of the back door and if it opens any squirrel on the bird feeders will make an amazing acrobatic leap to the ground, They know that we don’t mess with them on the ground, and so they will sit there and switch their tails at us and wait for us to go back in so they can climb the pole again. Tree rats. Crocus corm eaters. Sassy smart noirvy devils.

    Hi Hands, thanks. The structure was easy to make and would be a good addition to your water features! HA I agree about the ground feeding, we don’t rise up out of the lazyboy over that either. We did finally get a feeder that the squirrel really could not get the seed from, well worth the money. It is the digging up of the veggie bed and any newly cleared earth that is so annoying. I have to have unsightly cages and contraptions to let the plants grow large enough to discourage the digging by their sheer size. Rotten is what they are. Loved your job interview tale. :-)
    Frances

  27. Monica says:

    I’ve nver looked at a lilac bud that close-up, but I can see I need to! I also love the squirrels and laughed about it not being shy. I know that’s either a red fox or grey squirrel, and they’re more timid than our fox squirrels… ours pretty much knock on the doorwall for food. They are not scared of the cats and my cats don’t chase them; they’re pretty much the same size (my cats are on the small size and fox squirrels are pretty big!).

    Hi Monica, thanks. I love the lilacs. We are on the edge of the southern range for them and always cut the blooms to bring inside for they are often spoiled by too hot temps. We had red squirrels in OK and they were huge and aggressive. My parents did not feed the birds, although our neighbors, elderly ladies, did. I thought that was pretty cool.
    Frances

  28. LindaLunda says:

    LOVELY Photos!!!! WONDERFUL Frances!
    I love the bellyphoto!
    The fairygazebo are awsom.
    Linda

    Hi Linda, thanks so much. I do love your new hellebore too! :-)
    Frances

  29. nancybond says:

    Great photos, but I’ve lost my affection for squirrels since they moved into my aunt’s vacant house for the winter! Destructive brats, they are. But I don’t have the heart to set traps for them (much to my father’s chagrin!), so I’m not sure what that says about me! Hee. ;)

    Hi Nancy, thanks, no affection for them here either. It’s the digging that gets me. I don’t think I could set traps for them either, although they are so destructive in attics and houses. How about those humane types of traps, so they could be released rather than …well, you know.
    Frances

  30. Sweet Bay says:

    Frances, that picture of the squirrel lying on its stomach is hilarious. Why *are* they so smart?

    When I was a kid there was a squirrel who would come up on the patio and lay under the lounge chairs, while we were sitting or laying in them. We never fed this squirrel (although it did raid the bird feeders). This same squirrel also played with our Cairn Terrier. It was hilarious to watch them together.

    Hi Sweetbay, thanks. He was entertaining that day, even though his digging ways are irksome. Now that is a tame and brave squirrel to play with your terrier! HA
    Frances

  31. katesmudges says:

    Squirrels have no fear ~ they simply thumb their noses at us and continue to enjoy themselves. The lilac seeds are beautifully photographed.

    Hi Kate, so nice to see you. The squirrel did not even pause as I was yelling, clapping and making all kinds of noise at him. He was right next to the glass and my cat Hazel was inches away, making little noises of her own at him! Quite funny, actually. He could not have cared less.
    Frances

  32. Genevieve says:

    Oh I am so very jealous of your lovely squirrels! I wouldn’t even mind their mischief and thievery if I could watch them shake their bushy little tails. Lovely photography.

    Hi Genevieve, thanks, you are welcome to them all! I will send them C.O.D.! I do think they have cool tails though. :-)
    Frances

  33. Kathleen says:

    I know all the destructive mischief squirrels can get themselves up to but dang, that squirrel laying on his belly is one for the books! What an ADORABLE shot to capture Frances. He looks so precious. It’s good to face the garden so as not to miss scenes like these. I may need to try it myself. and 80 degrees???? omg, that would be fantastic. We haven’t seen temps like that yet. My lilacs look nothing like the ones pictured although they are showing signs of life. Glad you had a good weekend. The fairy gazebo is adorable ~ the perfect accessory for a “Faire Garden!”

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. He was acting pretty cute, turning first one way, then the other, always with his belly down. It was quite hot, I imagine him trying to cool off, but it might have been something totally different. I turn my chair to face the garden during the day and then to face the TV when it gets dark. This time change thing has me missing some garden gazing time. I need to turn it halfway to watch both! I can’t wait to see what name you come up with for your own garden. I told the story of mine in the comment to your post. :-)
    Frances

  34. Oh my goodness Frances! I have fallen in love with your fairy gazebo, what a treasure to see in any garden!

    Hi Karrita, thanks so much. So glad you like it. :-)
    Frances

  35. Benjamin says:

    OMG I must have pounded on and opened and slammed the back door 10 times this morning trying to get a squirrel to leave. I tried throwing and emtpy can of green beans at it. Nope. Still on the feeder. I through a log. Nothing. Then I walked out on cold patio barefoot, feet away from the feeder, and he left. Then came back a minute later. Grrrrrrr.

    Hi Benjamin, so nice to see you. Do come more often, for that will bring me back to your place. :-) The squirrels are so spunky, make that punky, it is a joke. They laugh at our efforts and know yelling can do them no harm, sticks and stones you know. HA
    Frances

  36. Gail says:

    Frances, Since I am last here and no one else but you might read this…I can safely tell you that I was so mad at a squirrel’s wanton destruction of a newly planted bed that I threw a small stone (really more a pebble) and actually hit him on his back side. I don’t know which of us was more surprised that I hit him! Believe me…he was unharmed and lived to create years of havoc in my gardens. Enough about me! This is a delightful post…starting with the photo of the lilac…It looks frosted and should be on a wedding cake. Then on to the squirrel photos; they are absolutely adorable. Too bad we know they are pests, because they are really cute critters and provide much entertainment in the garden. Finally, I love the fairy house/gazebo. and the beauty contestant hopeful, Pansy, she is lovely. They do have great faces. Take care…keep warm. Did you get the seedlings in out of the cold? I covered all my pots up…the flowers and shrubs are on their own! Gail

    Hi Gail, HA, you should not be ashamed of throwing the stone and hitting your target. The Financier, from years of baseball hits them all the time, and they still come back to rile us up. Do you have any lilacs? I love them so. These were freebies from the arbor society long ago, when we still lived in our other TN house. Often the blooms are spoiled by too high temps, but this year might be a winner. The seedlings are under the glass shower door. I am taking a chance with them, but will be watching the low temps carefully. Maybe a blanket over the whole thing would be good. The wind is blowing so, it would have to be secured with boulders, but we have those. That will be my job for today!
    Frances

  37. Brave little rascals, aren’t they, Frances! The ones in my terrace would leer at me standing high up the tree! What gall these pesky ones have! I love your gazebo – super cool.

    Hi Chandramouli, thanks so much. Leering is such a good term to describe the way those pests look at us. The Noirve! :-)
    Frances

  38. Lythrum says:

    Your post reminded me of when we lived in North Carolina. I had a bird feeder and nary a bird would visit it. I was actually happy to have squirrels visit it because at least someone was eating it and the food wasn’t being wasted. I don’t think that they were quite as brazen as that though. :)

    Hi Lythrum, well I guess squirrel wildlife is better than no wildlife, but just barely! :-)
    Frances

  39. RobinL says:

    I have to admit, that squirrel looks awfully cute trying to warm his belly on the cement. But that’s because he’s not doing it in my garden!

    Hi Robin, he was cute, but you should be glad he is not in your garden. He is one of the corps of mad diggers, ruining any attempt at seed or seedling planting without cover of wire and frost cloth. Not so lovely, that.
    Frances

  40. hayefield says:

    Yes, I *finally* got here! I too loved the squirrel pics, Frances, but what really made me literally laugh out loud was that first photo. Maybe I’m just in a weird mood, but it looks like some bizarre little critter with bulging eyes, a little orange beak, and a big smile waving some “pumped up” arms. Wildlife in the garden, indeed!

    Hi Nan, I figured you would get here at the end of the month. Now that you said that, I looked again and decided the first photo had a creature with giant claws kind of look. I will never look at lilacs the same. :-)
    Frances

  41. France, Love the little Fairy hut! I’m wondering about the pinecones in the flowerpots. :-)

    Hi Shady, thanks. The pinecones are just fillers for the pots, from the Loblolly pine trees growing along the edge of the property. They might be considered little pineapples to say welcome to the fairies. :-)
    Frances

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