By Victoria Plum
Every year the gorgeous Solomon’s seal in my garden produces flowers; it is elegant and statuesque.
Later the leaves become skeletal and it is only this year that I found the culprits: caterpillars (see photo) busy destroying them.
Some time ago I would have quickly squashed them between my fingers, but now my perspective has changed and I have not used any poisons, for pests or plants, for years.
I now know that the caterpillars on the Solomon’s seal are a sawfly, probably specific to that plant. So why would I kill them? The plant will continue to grow and flower next year.
A pest seldom destroys its host plant completely because if it does then its progeny have no food the following year. Does it matter to me that the leaves get eaten?
I now understand it is far more important that my garden is as full as possible of insects. Each kind has evolved to fill a niche, and each consumes and is consumed in turn.
I don’t even stand on snails or slugs any more. Did you know that many slugs only consume damaged or fallen leaves?
We seem to have emotional tolerance for certain creatures: we like ladybirds, we don’t like earwigs; we like bees, we don’t like wasps; we like butterflies, we don’t like moths; we are totally irrational. In fact, we are prejudiced against many insects for no reason at all.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a cure for moles in your garden, put a marshmallow down the hole.
It takes 18 months to get rid of the moles apparently, but I think we need to do research on this, so I look forward to your results, though not just yet.
I don’t usually have mole problems as my garden is surrounded by others and in a village situation, but I know some of you adjoin farmland and are often plagued by these creatures.
Reepham & District Gardening Club will hold an online meeting on Tuesday 21 July, 7.30 pm for a 7.45 start. Even I managed to access the meeting last time, so I’m sure you can too. Check the website for more information.
There will be a talk from the urban peregrine project officer of the Hawk and Owl Trust, Sculthorpe Moor. We had a lecture on this subject last year, which was extremely interesting, and this will be an update on the Norwich Peregrine Project.