Gentleman Caller

This Spring I planted hydrangea in the boxes that flank the front door.  We had caladiums last year and flirted with ferns this year, but the porch wanted blooms.  My friends who know things about gardening (as I do not) warned that hydrangea might not care to be contained, but so far both plants seem quite content.

As they get no rain and are out of reach of the sprinklers I have to water – a dicey proposition as I can be a little careless with this task.  So far so good.  Every day (okay, every couple of days) I give them a healthy drink with a large green plastic watering can which must be held exactly in the middle of the handle or it spills small puddles from the kitchen to the front door. (It is not a can, actually, as it is plastic.  It is one of those things, like the red plastic cooler on wheels that we use for picnics, the aesthetic of which is so offensive that I cannot believe I own it or claim it, but is so handy that it cannot be denied.)

For the last week or so as I’ve gone out to offer the plants a drink, I noticed something has been burrowing in the dirt.

“What do you think it is?” I asked Bill.

“A squirrel,” came his quick response.

“A squirrel?  It doesn’t seem like a squirrelly thing to do.  What would he want in there?”

He looked up over his iPad, “Patricia, what do you want it to be?”


Then yesterday I saw a chipmunk scramble out as I went to get the mail.  The size of the hole seemed more fitting for a chipmunk and I think he’s the one who’s been here before.  (My friend Mrs. Green always finds it amusing when I think I have one chipmunk.)  Still, I wonder what he wants there.  It seems an unlikely spot for food or shelter.  Is he digging for sport?  Or to vex me? I simply can’t see what can be gained. He works with great conviction kicking dirt all over the brick.

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12 thoughts on “Gentleman Caller

  1. When squirrels dig in my city garden — in the beds or the pots — they're usually looking for a bulb or two.

  2. "Patricia, what do you want it to be?"

    RATIONAL, that's all you wanted it to be, ie that he went in there FOR something. As in: the chipmunk went in there sensing well-watered dirt with high probability of a worm or fungi snack.


  3. Dear Mrs Blandings,

    First, I have had hydrangeas in planters (sizable ones) for years on end and they do wonderfully. Perhaps not quite as terrific as when they are allowed free reign in the garden but quite lovely just the same. After some time, they will need to be moved to larger quarters but you will know this when they seem not to thrive.

    Secondly, your little chipmunk friends are burying things in your pots to come back and munch on later….like next winter. I have lots of them and I find their cuteness factor outweighs their annoyances though I have been sorely tested this year. They uprooted all my baby beets and now have greedily picked my corn before it has had a chance to get more than a few inches tall.

    I live in Richmond, Virginia, by the way.

    Best of luck to you in your gardening endeavors,

  4. As a gardner, one is always battling nature. It can be exhausting and vexing. If you want to discourage "critters", I recommend a product called "Deer Off" – natural and effective. A warning however – it will smell awful for a few hours after spraying, and will keep humans away as well. But the smell will soon dissipate and will only be detectable to chipmunks and the like. Reapply after each rain to maintain effectiveness.

  5. I know what you mean about the aesthetics – I have an old green plastic watering can like you and finding it equally offensive asked for a traditional metal one for my birthday. Suffice to say I can't lift it when it's full of water so go back to the plastic when no-one's looking.

  6. oh, that "what do you want it to be" is such a typical comment from a practical man to a woman with a sense of wonder and imagination.

  7. I take a can of ground black pepper and instead of using the sprinkle holes, I use the pouring hole. Pour a good dose of pepper on the soil around the plant and Alvin should go elsewhere.

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