Garden Blog - Blog Post

Out Foxed




The Juliet balcony doors are open but the curtains are closed.


I reluctantly come to, half awake I open my eyes just briefly enough to realise that it must be very early in the morning. Not even the birds are up but there a noise. I’m not impressed and if I get my hands on the one responsible for the noise that woke me up, they will be very sorry, just as soon as I finish my beauty sleep.


It’s no good, I keep hearing it and now I’ve got to find out what it is.

I lurch out of bed, stumble across to the curtains and tentatively pull one aside, letting in the cool morning air. It is  refreshing but I don’t want to be refreshed, I want to be asleep.


My eyes slowly focus on a pair of red-brown things in the garden below.

Fox on the Landscape Fabric

Oh my gosh! Call the police! We’ve got coyotes! No, hyenas! No, wilder beast! No, it’s actually a pair of foxes, playing around on the landscape fabric that marks out the borders. This one seems particularly interested in something underneath the fabric. As I watched it stuck its snout under the folds between an overlap and pulled something out, ran across the grass where it devoured it and then seemingly bored of this garden, ducked underneath the beech hedge and through to the neighbours.

Fox searching for food

Foxes are rather common but it was the first time I had been woken up by them. They visit quite often as the black landscape fabric is covered with muddy paw prints. My guess is that the hot sun on black fabric makes the perfect place for grass snakes and slow worms to hide under, it is these that the foxes are probably after.

We’ve yet to see other garden wildlife such as hedgehogs, moles and badgers etc, some we would like to see, other we’d rather they stay away. As the garden gradually changes and the monoculture of grass is inexorably replaced with bio-diverse borders, I hope more wildlife is attracted to the garden. In a way it feels like I am setting the stage for re-establishing the natural food chain on my plot of land. The grass gives way to border plants, which attract pests, which attract insects, which attract birds, which attract larger birds and so on.

A garden without the sound of buzzing bees, chirping crickets and bleating birds feels sterile and artificial. Gardens should be noisy with wildlife, humming with activity and the sounds of countless creatures going about their business. This hubbub is evidence that all is well with the world – at least where the garden is concerned.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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lynngator 25/07/2014 - 8:13 pm

Sunil, the first fox photo looks like the critter in the Beatrix Potter tales! I understand one of the displays at Hampton Court was a garden to attract/protect hedgehogs. Perhaps you could find some information on it (or perhaps I could look it up for you. )Paw prints on your landscape fabric is one thing, my neighbor had a muddy bear paw print on his car window the other day!

Sunil 27/07/2014 - 5:50 pm

Hi Lynn, I watched the segment about the garden for attracting hedgehogs and luckily, we have all the features they were talking about. We have open/easy access for hedgehogs to come and go through the garden, we have plenty of rough and wild areas and lots of cover under discard and compost piles, there should be lots of food for them in there too. I don’t know if there are hedgehogs around but if they are, they will be at the bottom of the garden where the trees are. Lol about the paw print on the car! That would give me a fright!

Stacy 25/07/2014 - 9:39 pm

I know foxes can be a nuisance in the garden, but still — how exciting to see them! I’m so glad you’ll have “real” nature to enjoy, Sunil. It’s great to think of gardening as re-creating the natural order of succession. I’ve seen orioles and woodpeckers (and smelled a skunk) this summer, so my newish infill neighborhood is starting to offer something good to the wild things.

Sunil 27/07/2014 - 5:47 pm

Hello Stacy, hope you’re well. There is a definite feeling of restoring more than just a garden, but restoring the natural cycle and order of things. With so much grass and so little else, the garden at the moment feels empty and sterile while the previous garden was alive with flowers, insects and wildlife. I’m glad your garden is attracting birds and other wildlife, it is always a good sign that you’re heading in the right direction and that things are going well.

Alain 26/07/2014 - 2:48 am

That was lucky the camera was not too far. I have seen them two or three times but I was always outside without the camera. When they see me they freeze for a minute or so and then leave. The moment you move, they leave.
It was always nice to have wild life around.

Sunil 27/07/2014 - 5:43 pm

Hi Alain, they do seem to be shy creatures, I was surprised they didn’t spot the auto-focus light of the phone camera, which uses the flash light so it is pretty bright. I guess they were too busy trying to peer under the fabric covers to notice what was going on above them, lucky for me.

susan maclean 26/07/2014 - 12:03 pm

I don’t know whether to say Aaah! or Oh! Lovely to see them (we had a big old dog fox in the garden one night last year), but if they mark your garden as part of their territory by crapping (sorry), you will know all about it! I do love to see them even though I know what damage they can do to a hen-house. Let’s hope they visit again for you.

Sunil 27/07/2014 - 5:42 pm

Hi Mrs Mac, I don’t mind them visiting as long as they don’t leave any presents and just as long as it isn’t in the early hours of the morning, besides that, they’re (currently) welcome since there’s not much other wildlife around. Hopefully that will begin to change now.

casa mariposa 27/07/2014 - 6:45 pm

Our gardening philosophies are so similar. 🙂 Wildlife is welcome in my garden as long as it doesn’t eat the garden. Even my bunny-proofing has left them three sides of the house garden/landscaping to devour. Those fox are beautiful and now you have one less root devouring rodent to deal with. That black landscaping fabric must have cooked them to perfection. 🙂 Tasty!

Sunil Patel 30/07/2014 - 12:11 pm

Hi Tammy, I feel the same, I won’t have ravenous eaters, it’s a garden, not a buffet. I’ve never had to deal with rabbits, I guess the foxes help with moving them on, which is very good since I’ve heard stories of fluffy bunnies eating and destroying everything in sight.

gardeninacity 29/07/2014 - 4:34 am

Very cool to see foxes, there are none around here. Squirrels are plentiful, plus chipmunks, rabbits, opossums, and skunks. There have been coyote sightings but we really need more animal predators.

Sunil Patel 30/07/2014 - 12:14 pm

Hello Jason, we have lots of grey squirrels too and they can be heard running along the line of trees at the back, they probably explain why I have so many oak seedlings growing in the lawn where there isn’t an oak tree anywhere closeby. Exotics such as chipmunks, opossums, skunks and coyotes are thankfully absent.


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