Posts tagged snails

Those quiet weekends!

I just love the weekends, or maybe I should say I love the unpredictability of weekends. Ok Saturday we shop, like it or not there is always that trip or two to the shops but after that anything goes. I just love waking up knowing there is no need to get up early on a Sunday morning. Harry doesn’t have to go to work and generally the housework is all done so I can relax. Then once I get up there is nothing to do and somehow I miss the structure of the week and I’m bored. The weather isn’t good enough to garden yet, although maybe someone should tell the bugs that. In particular the snails.

Most people know how I have battled the bugs and diseases in my garden, well it looks like this year is going to be no exception. Barely have the first few green plants poked their shoots above ground then they are there, waiting like a wave of germ warfare at its strongest, to dessimate the few plants that have survived the feline invasion trying to unearth them while they slept.

Outside my back door the light wall seems to attract snails, they even park themselves on the bathroom window, watching, taunting me. A daily roundup does nothing to lessen their numbers and despite a vigourous ‘sweep’ of the wall and surrounding garden, another marauding wave arrives to start all over again the next day. Tender leaves on a goji berry plant disappear overnight, flowers on the primula that struggled to get above ground level last year are once again a tasty meal for either the slime brigade or the fodder to ease the hunger of the green and mutiple legged walking mouths.
The pond is another trap for anything that is destructive and the blanket weed that has resisted all treatment finally choked the pump, filter and fountain to death halfway through the winter.

Well, we planned to spend time on trying to eradicating the problems as soon as we could but never quite got around to it. Then this weekend two of my children came over, one of whom was my very energetic and strong son. It took him less time to fix the pond pump etc, sort the electrics and get everything working and catch a few baby fish promised to a friend than it took for me to prepare the Sunday lunch for him, my daughter who popped over too see him, and two granddaughters who played perfectly in the garden gathering snails.

I think I should maybe retitle this entry as those wonderful, unpredictable weekends. What a super day, and far from being a relaxing, do nothing, lazy kind of day, more was achieved in the garden than would take me a week to get half way through, Harry managed to recycle some old timber to make a bridge cover for the drain, we fitted in a visit to friends in the country to deliver the fish and share a cuppa and a chat with, we ran a couple of errands to my other daughter’s as well as spending the precious time with the children. Best of all, after all that ‘hard work’, a lazy take away supper was the final order of the day. The bugs and slugs will have to wait until another lazy Sunday.

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A little me time…

I have spent a great deal of time inside just lately, my art, knitting, writing, all very productive but not exactly good for the soul. Today, despite the forecast being foggy, the sun was shining in my garden and I was called outside. We had the garden altered last year to make it easier for me to handle. We extended raised side beds instead of stepping-stones and pebbled paths that meandered round larger beds that were all but accessible to me and sowed some small grassy ‘lawns’ with a straight paved path down the middle. I must look out some pictures tomorrow. It worked beautifully. OK I had to sit down to weed and stuff but I did it! I am really pleased with myself.

I cleared out the weeds that were just beginning to grow, pruned blueberry bushes, the rosemary bush, roses, a senna tree and cut back the ferns. From my garden chair I removed the dried trailers from last year’s Morning Glory, weeded pots, transplanted the contents of overcrowded pots to the garden and rescued some bulbs that had been cast aside during last years revamp. They were in a plant pot base and were struggling to cast out roots and little green shoots so I planted them. All in all I was really pleased with what I achieved.

What was really lovely was the stillness of the air around me. It was like the earth was holding its breath while it waited for something to happen. A deep calmness came over me as I sat among the bare branches of the Forsythia and noticed the tiny buds beginning to grow. I found toadstools under the Firethorn in the corner of the garden, everywhere I looked and weeded, tiny shoots hid just beneath the surface waiting for their time. Bluebells, Lily of the Valley, daffodils, hyacinths, all in the bare, silent garden, Such peacefulness that I barely noticed the traffic in the distance such was the power of nature holding her breath.

Only one thing spoiled it for me, those damn bugs! I know that as soon as my young bedding plants go in and things begin to shoot, they will be there, rows of teeth at the ready. There were dozens of caterpillars, monkey peas and worst of all, my friend the snail. I cleared some ground cover plants to allow  a little plant to grow and there stuck to the wall beneath it were dozens of snails, piled one on top of the other there were over thirty in their hibernation. I love nature and the hardest thing I have to do is to kill anything and I couldn’t let them loose in my garden. I had to blank my mind as I dropped them into a bucket of boiling salted water. I figured it had to be the quickest and most humane way of dealing with them. As my plants begin to grow the caterpillars will devour the young shoots. Last year every flower that grew on my Primulas was eaten within a day, all the leaves on my roses and senna tree were stripped, nothing was left and despite my picking them off and letting them go elsewhere my garden was a tattered shadow of what it could be.

I gritted my teeth and bought a bug killer last year. I didn’t have the heart to use it. There are no veggies this year and the only fruit are the blueberries and maybe some strawberries later on, so there is no health reason why I shouldn’t spray this year. My biggest enemy is my conscience. I know they will grow into moths, even saw flies and the process is so wonderful. I love to see the tiger moths and little blues as they flutter about my garden but I also love the flowers I intend to plant this year, growing and bringing even more colour and calmness to my little outdoor sanctuary. Then what happens to the ladybirds and what do the frogs eat if I kill all the bugs, Oh help!

Today I worked in my garden, a little me time that filled me with peace. I will worry about the bugs another day. I would like to go out there again tomorrow, weather permitting, but I know the little I did today will prevent me moving tomorrow so maybe it will be warm enough for me to sit and just enjoy the stillness until the ‘noise’ of everything happening once spring arrives changes the ambience. I love me time!

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Triffid

My garden is like a haven to me, it is laid out neatly as low maintenance as possible. It has a pond and shed a little water feature… well its a drain tank for the concrete path actually so I put a water pump in it and got my talented number 3 son to stack a load of stones up for the water to trickle through… at the moment it is a little forceful to say the least, it blasts the top stone off in an orbit of the garden at warp factor eight at least,  and I’d lose all the water if it was left running but you get the idea. The paths are pea shingle with stepping stones, small raised beds either side and a patio area with a stone BBQ  and the washing line…. so neat. I have planted everything in tubs to avoid the snail massacre, that means me massacreing them. I have become a heartless murderess, especially as I inspect my precious Hostas day and night then to come down in the morning to find something has dined exceptionally well on their succulent leaves. They are pretty stupid creatures though, they think they can hide in their little shells by sticking to the fence or the wall nearby but I know their little secrets. Harry is all for the salt treatment but I think that is downright cruel and that it is far quicker and humane to meet a sudden end under a wellie. hehee see how hard a woman I have become, I have had many a man turn up their noses and shudder unable to even think of it …. It must mean I have an alkaline soil to have more snails than slugs….. and apart from the massacre ritual it is all growing so well.

When we first moved in here I had a very small spiky plant , well I had two but one met its end for some unknown reason, this one stayed in its pot but failed to thrive very well so I decided to plant it in the garden to see if it would grow better. To our joy it did, but then it never stopped. It grew and we thought ah lovely, it grew some more and we thought ok, we could cut it down if it gets too big then once it had grown nearly as tall as us it became Harry’s ‘baby’. It is now over 8 feet tall. Earlier back in May there appeared a strange alien type thing that sprouted from the top, that too grew and grew until this huge growth decided to droop over the path and sprout millions of tinywhite flowers. If I spread my arms wide I would not reach the sides of it. I spoke to a horticulture friend of ours and he did some research, it appears to be a Cordyline Australis and is set to grow to over 30 feet…. So much for a little pot plant, when we bought it the guy was so careful about telling us how to nurture it, maybe I should have it might have stayed a baby longer. This is definitely of triffid ancestry, here threatening to take over the whole of my garden. I swear it has secret lives too. As you walk by it there is a loud buzzing and gets louder if you touch it. Either it is communicating with outer space or there are things lurking in there totally invisible from view. Not sure which I prefer really.

Right next to it is some fennel which was also pretty paltry to look at from the time I planted it and earlier this year I nearly dug it up in disgust after it failed to grow more than one frond since last year. The triffid has spoken! the fennel is now only half the size of the tree and still growing… What is going on out there. I only hope that the seeds and plants I am growing take heed and produce something edible of a reasonable size…. I’d have a word with the triffid but I really don’t want to get on a wrong footing with it. Who knows what could happen out there.

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