‘You can never win’: Camilla & Charles’s garden hit by mice – how to get rid of the pests

Camilla pays visit to the Garden Museum

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The Duchess of Cornwall loves gardening, however complained on Gardeners’ World about vegetable patch invaders attacking her produce. Camilla reveals to the Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don that uninvited guests had invaded her vegetable patch and eaten her produce. She spoke of mice and voles devouring her strawberries and eating the asparagus roots she had planted during the pandemic.

The Duchess toured Don’s garden Longmeadow in Herefordshire, and said gardening became a “spiritual experience” for many during the pandemic and that she has begun to develop a woodland garden.

Discussing the rodent culprits, Camilla said: “I’m very lucky I’ve got a big vegetable garden, but you get the mice, the voles this year, all ate the asparagus roots and then they got into the strawberries, so you can never win, there’s always something.”

Don replied to the Duchess: “I think you just have to accept that there are some things that are just not going to go for you this year, whatever it might be.”

Camilla is not alone, however. The Royal Horticultural Society said four species of mice and voles, the wood mouse, yellow-necked field mouse, bank vole, and short-tailed vole can cause damage to gardens.

Most of the time population levels are relatively low and little plant damage is noticed, but mice and voles can reproduce rapidly under good conditions, leading to population explosions and damage to plants.

In lockdown, there was a surge in inquiries about rodents, with experts suggesting people were noticing the signs more at home because they were spending more time there.

Rising rodent activity could be due to warmer winters over recent years, which has increased rodent populations.

There are some practical tips for getting rid of garden mice. You can try putting mesh wire over your plant pots outside, which will stop any hungry mouse from accessing them.

Mice hate biting on metal, and they are not strong enough to bite through it in any case.

You can also help rodent-proof your backyard shed. A shed is a key area where a mouse can make its bed, so try using steel wool at any potential access points.

You can also apply rodenticide, particularly under sheds or decking, but this is not always necessary.

A rat box will also help with rats or other rodents. It contains poison and has a design that makes it work with rats and mice without interfering with any other larger animals or pets.

Both Charles and Camilla are passionate gardeners, and the Duchess said gardening played an essential role in people’s wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think gardens got people through Covid. They realised how special a garden was and what they could do with it, they could become inventive, even if they hadn’t before they could start growing vegetables,” she said.

“It was a sort of spiritual experience for them, they discovered a sort of affinity with the soil – you can go into a garden, and you can completely lose yourself.

“You don’t have to think about anything else, you’re surrounded by nature, you’ve got birds singing, you’ve got bees buzzing about – there is something very healing about gardens.”

On her plans for her own garden, Camilla added: “I’ve got a little bit of a woodland garden that I’ve started, and I would love to build that up more.

“I would love to put down swathes of bulbs, and I would also like to have a proper wildflower meadow.

“At the moment I’ve got a bit, but the grass has sort of taken over and we’re going to have another go this year of planting more seeds, because I think, especially now, it’s even more important to have these wildflowers – if we’re going to keep on attracting butterflies and bees.”

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