One of the Clivia fans was looking poorly. I tugged at it and it came right out of the ground, rootless. Then I noticed a pile of loose soil. Uh-oh. I lifted out the decorative metal wire thingy I stuck in the corner behind the Clivias, and there was a neatly made nest underneath it.
Decorative wire thingy, removed from bed:
A carefully and lovingly crafted nest, actually. So well-crafted I was taken aback--a little animal had put a lot of effort into it. My guess is mole?!? Gophers would have done a lot of damage. Rat's nests look like--rat's nests. Too small for possum. Mice can't dig like that. So mole is my guess.
I recognized in the nest some of the Hakonechloa macra from a clump that had been constantly and mysteriously trimmed back in spring--I thought the dogs were doing it, but it was this little nest-maker, and she made quite a trek to get her bedding. The clump is 15 or 20 feet away from the nest site. I wonder if her nest was successful--odd that it was so shallow. The doomed Clivia's roots were in her way, so she sliced through them.
The Google reveals that moles do line their nests with grasses and leaves, and that the shallow ridges that are their sign in the garden are only temporary hunting trails--their "home" tunnels, which they guard agressively and patrol constantly, are much deeper, more permanent, and more solid. The common mole in Southern California is one of the largest--the broad footed mole, Scapanus latimanus. And moles are not rodents. They are from an ancient order of mammals, the Insectivora.
My garden is somewhat over run with moles, which I am told is punishment for having good soil. Unlike gophers, moles do little damage to plants. Moles eat grubs and earthworms, not plants. (Insectivora = Insect-eaters). So I leave them be. They are, after all, nature's fantastic little brown velvet roto-tillers. I have plenty more Clivia.
Since mole nests are not particularly photogenic, some flowers from the garden that managed to stand up to our recent heat wave without losing their beauty.
'Pope John Paul II':
'Jardin de Bagatelle':