Thursday, March 29, 2012

slimy surprise

Earlier this week I just about finished deadheading all the freesias and hyacinths in our front garden. It's a complex process and has required several sessions of work. We're talking about hundreds of snips here, with faded blossoms joining the perma-mulch and leaves left to dry in place while nourishing the bulbs and corms beneath.

After our recent rains, the floppy freesias tend to form an ugly sodden mass, and so I have developed a technique of lifting their leaves, trimming off the faded blossoms, giving the leaves a shake or two, and letting them fall. This exposes weeds -- petty spurge, oxalis, tufts of grass, and even the occasional Star of Bethlehem -- while fluffing up the dying freesias and making them look a little better during the wait for convolvulus mauritanicus and Mexican evening primrose to fill in.

Hyacinths' blossom stalks stand taller than those of freesias, and their glossy leaves stay dark green after the flowers fade, so deadheading them is easier. Nevertheless I started poking around in their foliage to look for weeds and -- voila!  -- found snails clinging to the undersides of hyacinth leaves. Since discovering Sluggo Plus two years ago, we have not had a problem with snails and slugs, but by the time I'd finished deadheading the hyacinths I'd found eight mature snails and trampled them gleefully in the gutter.

And now my morning ritual must include hyacinth leaf surveillance and land mollusk sacrifice, until the snails find safer places to wait out our summer dry spell. Three succumbed this morning.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License