Garden in Umbria

What a Boar - March 2019

Total destruction. Massive holes everywhere. Shrubby plants trampled down and broken. Smaller plants dug up and tossed aside. A right boar. 

Yes I know that the wild boar cause a lot of damage every year and that they dig holes all over the olive grove. But this time is it a lot worse: they have invaded the garden and any area that has not been fenced off like Colditz is being destroyed.

Olive grove - like the Somme

Unnaturally fearless, the boar have got into the flower beds and they are progressively turning my little corner of paradise into Eeyore’s Gloomy Patch.

Boar dug into the main water pipe and caused a flood

Why this year and why my garden? I am almost certain that the winter drought is to blame: we have had no rain since late January, at least 6 dry weeks now. The boar who live in the bosco have been coming out at night in the desperate search for food. What tastier than a snout full of garden soil full of grubs, seasoned with a few roots?

Flower bed dug up

Of course, drought and frost are not the only causes of missing iris: porcupine, badger and wild boar all wreak havoc and many people in this area report that the problem is getting worse. I have found that a radio can be a deterrent, especially if tuned to Radio Maria (which broadcasts mostly religious talks), or solar lamps. Electric fencing can be a temporary solution but be sure to keep the system properly earthed otherwise the current won’t flow (throw a bucket of water over the earth spike to keep it moist and in contact with the soil).

But the only real answer is a strong chain link fence which extends deep underground to stop them digging their way in.

Badger attack on pots

And the badgers (or is it porcupine?) even come right up to the house and dig out the plants in pots. I am told that putting peanut butter sandwiches away from the house can lure them away - badgers are supposed to be very partial to peanuts (how did they develop this taste?) but I have not tried this technique myself.


As I write, the forecast for tomorrow is for a storm, but beyond that very little rain is due to come our way for the rest of March. This is the season when we need the rain to replenish the aquifers. I have been watering plants in pots as if it were high summer and have even given the occasional can of water to special plants that I really don’t want to lose.

Anemone blanda growing under an olive tree

Despite my gloomy state of mind, the spring is arriving in all its glory undeterred. March is a ‘yellow’ month with Forsythia, Coronilla, Medicago, daffodils. Lovely then to see the sky blue of Anemone blanda and Iris reticulata. The bulbs though have to be kept safely out of the reach of prying snouts.

The photo at the top of this page shows a herd of wild boar in Umbria

Many of these articles first appeared in the Castiglione del Lago monthly newsletter “Qua e là” edited by Priscilla Worsley

All text and photographs © Yvonne Barton unless stated otherwise

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