I have never been one to judge people by the clothes they wear. But take slugs and snails, for example.
Snails are quite sweet, aren't they? All dressed up in a cute little
number which doubles as a caravan when rest is called for or danger threatens. A slug, on the other hand, is nothing more than a naked snail - but, yuk, how horrid they are!
I would be willing to live and
let live, pacifist that I am, but the slugs are attacking the Wall of Sunflowers with a vengeance. On some of my plants every leaf sports a lacy pattern where said slugs have been nibbling away. Trails of silvery slime along the stems are evidence of the marauders.
If any of them flower after such wanton destructiveness, it will be a triumph of hope over slugversity.
What makes the situation far, far worse is that, as regular readers will recall, I have allocated a plant
to each of my Truly Tremendous Ten grandchildren. This makes the Slug Attack feel so very much more personal. Here is the State of Play:
Katie and Jack's sunflowers have not grown as fast as the others, possibly
on account of having been planted in the poorest ground, recently vacated by a towering bush. However this has proved a benefit in the Slug Stakes, because both have been left mostly untouched by the Silver Slimy Stuff. Similarly Hazel's and Eleanor's. Sam's
sunflower, originally the tallest, has been overtaken both by its colleagues and by a slug or two. James's sunflower, next to Sam's, is in a terrible state. The next in line, allocated to the Duracell Bunny, is flourishing with a kind of "Can't catch me!"
air of bravado. Apart from a couple of nibbled leaves it seems to have escaped the worst.
Which is more than can be said for Faris's sunflower which is in an even worse state than James's. This morning I actually
caught a horrible fat slug in the very act of gnawing through the thick stem, just below the budding flower. I removed it and gave it a good scolding, I can tell you - though I doubt it was listening. Do slugs even have ears? I check it out and discover that
they don't have ears but hear through a process of vibration.
After removing the slug I didn't quite know what to do with it, other than tossing it over the fence into next door's garden. Our new neighbours
haven't moved in yet or I'd have had second thoughts about such cavalier behaviour. I had to go and wash my hands three times over and, however clean my hands after such ministrations, still couldn't rid myself of the feeling of stickiness. I have re-staked
Faris's plant which was bent right over from the slug's attack but I don't hold out a great deal of hope for its future. It really needs to be bandaged up but you can't put a sticking plaster on a sunflower. Can you?
Tala's sunflower is still standing tall though looking just a little sickly - but poor Lilia's is the Worst in the Wall. It hardly seems fair that Lilia - she of the beaming smile and sunny nature - should be so afflicted. You see what I mean - the
Slug Attack is feeling very personal.
The Eldest of the Darling Daughters would say that I never learn. She would remind me of the day I encouraged her daughters to name the birds in their garden. Eleanor
was particularly taken with one Feathered Friend: it was, she told us all, her "lucky bird."
You can probably guess what happened - the very next day that poor bird's luck ran out at the paws of a neighbour's cat.
Eleanor was distraught. She would still have been upset, tender-hearted lass that she is, but naming the bird and giving it a personality made the loss so much worse.
So with my sunflowers. I will, of course,
keep you posted. I have surrounded each stem with lots of twigs and branches from the Jungle at the Bottom of the Garden as someone advised me that slugs would not be able to traverse such rough terrain on their slimy stomachs. It may work, it can't do any
harm. Mr B mutters something unhelpful about stable doors and bolting horses but, like a slug, I have no ears for such pessimism and appear only able to register Good Vibrations.
Apparently wet weather brings
out the slugs and, according to the forecast, we will have torrential rain tonight. I owe it to my Truly Tremendous Ten to protect the Wall of Sunflowers from further harm before it becomes the Wasted Wall of Slug-Infested Sunflowers.
Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I shall be out on Slug Patrol...