Garden (spring)

Gardening with peacocks

Posted on 23 March 2015 at 12:06pm

In the pouring rain, two peacocks huddle on the garden fence, currently seeking shelter under the beech tree. An odd, bedraggled sight if ever there was one. Peacocks in rural North Wales roaming about stately country hotels is one thing, but in our garden?

A long time ago, there were considerably more such birds in our village; since one particular lady woke up one day having seemingly had an epiphany: and introduced a peahen or two to her already substantial flock. Very soon, as you can imagine, the village was over run with these exotic looking fowl which eventually led to the authorities having to enforce their removal. It seems only five birds survived to tell the tale, so to speak; thankfully, they’re all male.

These five peacocks are rarely seen together, more often than not, there are two or three. Given to parading around lawns, sunbathing on tops of cars, or showing off in the middle of the road, they are not popular with all the gardeners in the village. These peacocks are partial to primroses and have a particular taste for yellow flowers in general - it takes less than a day or two before all semblance of these springtime favourites disappear altogether, and we’re left with the blatant, sorry looking evidence in the aftermath of such a brutal attack. Heaven forbid when the aubretia comes into flower, with uncanny speed, peacocks can spot this spring flowering plant and its pretty purple flowers in no time at all. Demolishing it takes less than a moment.

As the weather is warming up a little (she says, fingerless mitts to the rescue of cold hands and whilst taking a minute to stoke up the fire), these birds are apt to spend more time cruising the flower beds in search of bugs. The trouble is, as spring flowering bulbs are also starting to show, they stand a very good chance of being crushed underfoot by a bird more ostentatious looking than most to be found in a typical, welsh country garden. Having withstood the test of hoar frost, the ravages of relentless rainfall, the odd foot or three of snow or hoolies that would not be out of place at the mouth of the river of their namesake in Calcutta, these plants are putting on a brave face under the foot of a 13lb peacock. And if that wasn’t indignation enough, there’s the not too small matter of a train of feathers which makes up for over half of its total body length. They might look light enough, but trailing them along a flower bed in the throws of regeneration, after a long and trying winter, is enough to instill panic of fathomless quantity into the novice gardener, such as myself.

Welcome to the garden, then. The new season starts with the garden club AGM with cheese and wine in the village hall, and stories from the garden as the seasons unfold will soon follow. If you have a gardening story of your own which you would like to share here, please contact us. We’d be delighted to hear from you.