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Good Herons
by Patrick Vickery
by Patrick Vickery

email: Aldieburnplants@aol.com

Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands and runs a small hardy perennial nursery (part-time). Patrick is also a part-time garden writer, and part-time special needs teacher.

Married to Liz, they have three children, two goats, two dogs, an assortment of small animals, and lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.

Patrick gardens using a raised bed system and all, of course, chemically free - a chemical free zone!
Visit his blog
His first book was published in January 2002 by Capall Bann Publishers, UK:-
"In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden" (ISBN: 186163 1480)

Also visit his website at www.patrickvickery.com


May 16, 2010

I know a man called Rocky. He has two dogs, Ronnie and Reggie, a cat called Buster and an old ferret called Bill, all of which conjure up a certain London gangland feel from the nineteen sixties, don't you think? Rocky lives on the outskirts of town (it could be your town) with a rambling garden just perfect for pottering about and being ‘at one' with nature.

Now he had a problem. His pond was well-stocked with Japanese Koi (expensive fish, you know, if you know about fish) when a local heron of the district flew in and ate the lot. He was distraught.

So what do you do when a heron eats your Koi? Shoot it perhaps? Although that's hardly the way to behave in a civilised society, is it? No, you can't go shooting indigenous wildlife willy-nilly - not unless it's a rabbit or a hare, a deer or a fox, a grouse or a pheasant, a pigeon or a duck, a salmon or a trout, something like that. But can you blame him for flirting with the idea, albeit briefly, when all manner of folk are blasting away furiously at all sorts of wildlife in the near vicinity. Shoot herons? No, that would be unthinkable.

One morning as he ranted deliriously on about this problem to one of his fare-paying passengers (he's a taxi driver), and in particular about the necessity to relocate the entire heron population of Ross-shire to the Shetland Islands, he was gifted with a solution.

‘Git a plastic Heron, Rocky," said the fare-paying passenger. (‘Git' in this context should be ‘get', of course, only ‘git' is what he said, which fits in neatly with the sixties London gangland theme mentioned earlier).

Perfect. So he diverted to the Garden Centre to ‘git' himself a plastic heron to deter real herons. It came in a box. A sort of ‘do-it-yourself' kit. Most impressive. It contained a torso, two legs (one folded and one extended), a plastic heron's head and a length of dowelling to stick up the nose with some feathers on the end that flapped in the wind.

"Stand By Pond," said the instructions. "Deters All Herons." Excellent. But there was a problem. It didn't work. So it wasn't excellent at all. In fact it was quite the opposite. Which isn't to say, before a plastic heron manufacturing company decides to sue me, that it won't work for anybody else. It probably will. But in this instance the real heron wasn't bothered in the least and began visiting Rocky's garden on a more regular basis than before. He was not amused.

"Git a plastic heron, my foot!" he muttered as the two birds snuggled into each other beside the pond.

As a temporary solution to this irritating problem, nothing permanent, he opted to forgo Japanese Koi and make do with water lilies and marginal plants instead, But what to do with a redundant plastic heron? Too expensive to throw away. One morning, as he ranted deliriously on about wasting good money on plastic herons to one of his fare-paying passengers (perhaps it was the same passenger?), he was gifted with the solution.

"Bury it, Rocky," said the fare-paying passenger, "upside down, neck deep, then drill holes in its bottom and grow flowers out of it." It was a horticultural revelation.

So that's exactly what he did. And indeed so enthusiastic was he with this idea that he popped down to the garden centre to buy himself a plastic gnome for similar purposes.

So there you are. All's well that ends well. And if the sight of two protruding bottoms - heron and gnome - with accompanying flower arrangements doesn't keep the local heron population at bay (or anything else for that matter) then nothing will.

And by the way, if you have a heron problem and an affinity for London gangland ‘speak', coupled with an aversion for flower arrangements as outlined above, try shouting "Git orf moi laaaaand...!" It won't work but it sounds terrific.

Copyright Patrick Vickery

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