One by one then two by two over this winter they have steadily been disappearing, and whilst I have suspected who the culprit was until today I had no proof but now..
Three years ago as part of the initial scheme of the garden I planted several clumps of iris bulbs. Now I adore irises, I grew them in my garden in Scotland and was thrilled to see they thrive here in Umbria, except of course when they are fodder for wild beasts. Usually if the corms get a chance to mature for three years then they are safe, but it seems not in this case, for although there was a wonderful display and the irises had clumped up well, thanks to the rapacious Istrice there are now none. The iris walk I planted was blues and purples, I wanted to expand the colours to yellows, chocolate browns, maroons, lavender and multi-coloured ones, but had only got the catalogues out when the existing plants began disappearing. Luckily I have made contact with a keen gardener in Perugia who will be thinning out her iris bed and has offered the excess corms to me as a gift. It is back to the beginning again, small plants and no flowers, and a fence, but in the future there will be irises in the garden at Bellaugello.
There is a story of an ancient farmer’s wife here in the valley who was troubled by the Istrice eating her crop of potatoes. One day, and unaware of the situation a neighbour called in to enquire as to whether the farmer’s wife was happy with the yield and flavour of her potato crop to be told that she had no idea just how the potatoes tasted or how many kilos the seed potatoes yielded as they had all been eaten by the porcupine. However she then went on to say that spit roasted potato fed porcupine was rather a delicate and flavorsome meat!
Don’t worry I have no intention of trying out iris fed porcupine!