This is a tale about the contrasting fortunes of two plants that should be casting a golden glow over the garden right now.

I am talking about winter flowering jasmine which readers will recognise as a plant that I recommend for every garden no matter its size or situation for no flower will give you more joy at this time of year. They have always lifted my spirits but this year is different for whilst the jasmine that nets the wall with its acid yellow stars in the back yard fills me with joy the jasmine on the other side of the house it is a different story.

For many years this jasmine has twined itself around the pergola and its green stems have been covered in the same bright yellow flowers as its cousin in the back yard. That cheerful sight is now muted and only a bud remains here and there. By the time you read this I imagine that even those few survivors will be gone.

So what has caused the jasmine on the pergola to lose its flowers? The good news for all those who possess this lovely thing is that it is completely disease free and the damage has nothing to do with insects either. The bad news for me is that all those pretty flowers have been devoured by a grey squirrel. I have watched with increasing irritation as day by day a pair of squirrels have raided the bird feeders and then, as a last straw have taken to picking the flowers and buds as a sort of sweet treat to round off the meal. I bang on the windows and they bounce away across the lawn only to return minutes later.

The fact is of course that however wildlife friendly we try to make our gardens there are wildlife out there that will never be welcome. My friend Jamie gave out a heartfelt plea when he phoned to complain that the wildlife were destroying his wildlife garden. The unwelcome wildlife in question was a rabbit debarking and destroying a newly planted native hedge. All I can say is that at least it was a rabbit and not a muntjac deer that is the scourge of my friend, Polly’s garden in Oxfordshire.

Like many gardeners I don’t blast the garden with chemicals to deter pests for I garden organically and find that the garden itself reaches a balance where, for example, ladybirds and bluetits control aphid numbers on my roses.

Still there remains the problem of what to do about these four footed intruders. Merlin, my little undergardener would never tolerate a squirrel to come poking his nose where it wasn’t wanted and I miss my friend. But Gus, my little black cat with four white paws is sitting by the French windows and looking out with fierce marigold eyes. He strayed here at Christmas, a little miracle that is still skeletal in appearance and presently with no desire brave the cold garden but that will change in time. Squirrels beware for a new undergardener is waiting in the wings.