Wells Voice Article February 2024

The Wood Pigeon is no longer confined to the woods, as those of us who have grown berried plants well know. This year the rose, the hollies and the cotoneasters have been ravaged by these aggressive and voracious asset strippers, leaving the resident thrushes and the odd cross-faced Redwing to quick snacks between onslaughts. Smaller birds, too, have been pushed aside. The result of these bellicose intrusions is likely to provoke an uncomfortable tendency to murderous thoughts. In the fifties and sixties, the American songwriter and satirist Tom Lehrer celebrated the murder of pigeons in public places along the lines of: (it only takes a smidgeon) … to poison a pigeon in the park. 

Open warfare on unwelcome aspects of garden visitations is almost a tradition. The decades after the Second War were particularly lethal with indiscriminate slaughter from tins and bottles easily purchased. Garden sheds were, until recently, arsenals of unforgiving means of brutality of all sorts. When very young, in sandals, grey shorts and snake belts, my brothers and I were shown the sinister dangers of ‘The Top Shelf’ - never to be touched. The weaponry was taken down with care and a cautionary tale. The Red Lead (for rats). The bottle of Cyanide (available at all good chemists). The Tar Oil (for fruit trees). The Nicotine Spray (for apples) and then, of course, the DDT. Now you would have thought that anything with a name which requires 31 letters should have been avoided at all costs. But apparently not. By the way, for information only, DDT is Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. These were then followed by stuff ending in xyl or ion, all just as bad.  We have learnt our lesson or at least one hopes so and the fat pigeons strut about the garden in complete safety apart from an occasional blast from my water pistol. 

The next meeting of the Wells & District Gardening Club is nothing like as lethal. Last month a jolly crowd enjoyed an evening which included a quirky quiz. February will see a return to the routine of talks and a welcome return visit from Hilary Little of Westbury. Hilary has covered most of the globe in search of floral treasures, and not only her speciality which is alpine flora. Hugely knowledgeable and her illustrated talks are always immensely interesting and informative. This time she will be taking us on a visit to Ecuador, a place which most of us would be hard put to place on the map. Details: Thursday 8th February 2024, Wells Town Hall, 7.30 pm, Hilary Little: ECUADOR - Journey to the Centre of the Earth; everyone is very welcome. Members £1 visitors £3. Pip