Winter cutting ornamental grasses

We have just experienced the cat equivalent of a McNab.

In Scotland you are hailed with a McNab if you can stalk and shoot a deer, catch a salmon and bag a brace of grouse within daylight hours of a single day.

This morning I almost stepped on and narrowly avoided a large decapitated rat in the courtyard; a mouse in two parts on her favourite rock. And just now…. a regurgitated baby mole rat. She lost style points for up-chucking the mole rat and leaving stains on the deck. Which I just scrubbed.

But still, three rodents in one day.

In her honour we are calling it a Creature. I know that Lisa’s Lily could probably top that in the feline hunting stakes. But round here we are impressed.

And I probably only noticed the mouse as it was on this rock and I have been plodding up and around it for a day.

The annual cutting back of the eragrostis grasses on the oak bank has begun.

And I actually completed it in two short days. (You have to allow time for scrubbing rodent guts off the deck, hauling firewood and generally enjoying winter reading by the fire.)

And if you are looking for a sort of low maintenance drought-stricken solution. I do recommend these grasses. They look like you have made an effort.

All that survives on this bank is one American oak (drought-stricken most years), one self-seeded oak…

Isn’t it glorious? It has come back nicely from a heavy early October snow fall when so many branches cracked.

And weeds.

And for the past few years a few rows of the grasses. They actually do a pretty good job of smothering most weeds all year.

When it comes to maintenance nothing could be easier. Cut back once.

I always start by weeding the rows in between the grasses. It has been quick work as the soil is so soft and they really are weak annual grass softies.

I pull off the iris stalks and sorry-looking leaves as I go. The very front of the oak bank is a death trap and I only do a close weeding of that job in summer when the rocks aren’t slippery from seeping mountain rain. You have to lean a ladder up against the rock to reach.

And then it’s on with the cutting. And all the grass material goes back onto the paths between the rows to work as a mulch.

And that’s it for another year.

I have of course been tidying the rest of the oak bank. It was very weedy.

And planting tulips around the shrubs. And generally giving this part of the garden a bit of attention.

It’s tricky to photograph. I kept trying to keep the car in the courtyard out of the shot. And none of the shots do justice to just how much wonderful weeding I did. So I am miffed.

We had to do some other cutting back lower down the farm this week…

Yes, that is the electricity supply to the house. It’s a good thing our wires in the forest have a good bit of give in them. This one had really stretched the wire. But we saved the power. And I noticed that another tree nearby was a useful harvesting opportunity.

A monster pine tree came down last week. Yet another. There have been dozens all over the farm this year.

I went to inspect it and decided it would serve as a bit of Christmas cheer in the house.

So out came the secateurs, and I came back with armfuls.

I left the branches out overnight so bugs could escape.

And then in they came and helped make the dining room a bit Christmassy.

I put olive branches instead of pine in the big vases on the bookcases this year. I had to cut back the olive anyway when I was harvesting. So they came in handy.

And now it’s time to indulge the very pleased with herself hunter.

And keep her in for a bit and save the rodent population for another day.