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Archive for January, 2013


Nine dahlias dancing

Eight slugs a-slugging

Seven swans a-swimming

Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Dahlias

The dahlia bed really is one of the stars of the garden, especially in late summer and throughout the autumn until the very first frost. It’s a completely random mix, and there’s nothing very stylish or organised about it. Yet, the flowers are so lovely, from the singles through the semi-double hybrids through to the full-blown cactii.

White dahlia

The white dahlias stole the show this year; they came through, even though I had grown them from seed. They put on a firework from early July through October until the first frost killed them off.

Dead dahlias

Still, once they died off I could dig up some wonderful tubers to safe for next year. (And since we don’t have a frost-free shed to keep them in they’ve been sent on a winter holiday at my Mum’s and she’s taking good care of them. She’s already re-packed them once because they were getting damp, and I think she deserves credit for this.) Of course I might just buy some more dahlia seeds this spring so we can have even more of these wonderfully diverse flowers next year. They come in so many shapes, so many colours, and I love them all!

Cactus Dahlia

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Eight slugs a-slugging

Seven swans a-swimming

Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Yes, the slugs… Obviously we have no slugs in the garden during winter – or at least that’s what it looks like. 2-4″ below the surface they are just waiting for warmer weather to emerge, for the eggs to hatch and for my poor plants to be attacked. And “Eight Slugs A-Slugging” is a gross underestimate!!! My record remains 179 slugs killed within one hour in the first year we had the garden…

Some gastropods are better than the slugs, though, and I’ve tried getting some of those into the garden. The Roman snail will eat some plants and shoots, but they prefer dead or decaying plants – and more importantly they like feeding on the eggs and younglings of other gastropods…

Also, I find them attractive in their own right with their large brown and grey shells… And I will tolerate if they eat some of my plants as long as they eat a few slug eggs as well!

 Mind you, more than anything else I have to count on myself to kill slugs. Since I released the Roman snails in the garden I’ve stopped using slug pellets, but instead I use my trusty slug spear. I suspect it was originally designed as a hoe to be used between paving stones, but when you keep the edge sharpened it’s the perfect tool for killing slugs. Less fussy that collecting them and killing them with boiling water, and definitely a quick and humane way to kill them off. After all, even slugs deserve a quick death, right? (Well, slugs more than anything deserve a quick death!!! ALL OF THEM!!!)

And as the picture shows, early mornings when you are still in your bathrobe is probably the best time of day to kill slugs. They like it while there is still some humidity in the air but it’s not cold… (All right, so perhaps it would be a good idea to put on some trousers, because straddling The Puddles in a bathrobe is not really very dignified and the neighbours might see more than they really need to of the gardener…)

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