If you are observant you can see them scurrying among the undergrowth of plants. If you are quiet you may catch a glimpse of them munching on seed heads. They like the seeds of plants such as Tagetes tenuifolia. They have even amused me by running off with string into a hole in the wall which separates the Growing the Future Garden and the Japanese Garden.
During the winter the voles, charming as they are have become a little troublesome. In the shady vegetable patch I keep finding chard Beta vulgaris var. cicla plants collapsed. On lifting the plants I find the bottoms completely eaten away and a tunnel leading from where the roots should be. When dividing perennial plants I have found a myriad of tunnels throughout the bed and hollows under the crowns of the plants.
In a garden I worked in previously I put onions Allium cepa and other alliums down tunnels to deter moles. I don’t think this will work with the voles. I have found leeks Allium porrum succumbed to the same problem as the chard.
Having read Bruce’s blog post a bad day for field voles, I experienced a wave of mixed emotions. Joy at the thought of Barn Owls silently swooping over the Garden. Sadness at voles meeting their end in the talons of an owl. Relief of some control of the amount of vole disruption in the Growing the Future Garden. And then disappointment mixed with relief at the realisation that the Growing the Future Garden doesn’t make for easy hunting ground for Barn Owls.
Barn Owls find it easier to hunt on open rough grassland such as the Waun Las hay meadow . The Growing the Future Garden is a small area. It is enclosed by walls and is obstructed with an archway, greenhouse and planting. It provides a shelter for voles making it difficult for owls to prey on them.
Secretly I’m relieved that the voles have found a sanctuary. The biodiversity in the Garden makes it a fascinating and joyous place to work.