Slugging it Out

IMG_2238It may have been wet for much of yesterday but that didn’t stop several rambles round the garden at various times of day. On the first ramble I noticed that Clematis ‘Rebecca’ was looking a little ragged and guessing who was responsible I wondered how they knew there was a flower three or feet above ground and how much effort it must have taken to climb the upright or the support netting or the clematis itself to get there – it’s not as if they move very quickly, is it? The final ramble, probably about half eight that evening, caught the brazen culprits in action, having the barefaced cheek to not even wait till cover of darkness! “Shall we eat out?” says one. “How about the Clematis Restaurant up the pole?” says another. “Ooh yes – I’ve heard rave reviews about some of the delicaciesΒ they serve there”, says the third. Alas, they were thrown out of the restaurant before they finished their first course and were last seen on a well trodden path nearby….

Today has been bright and sunny and allowed lots of catching up jobs like emptying pots, filling pots, cleaning pots and generally just being a bit potty. Rebecca may be looking a little worse for wear but today’s drier rambles and back and forth pot journeys have passed plenty of other less bedraggled blooms to make up for her demise. Her friend Josephine on the next post just gets better and better, opening row upon row of new frills:

IMG_2240I now have a handful of blooms of Anemone ‘Sylphide’, bought at the last minute from Sarah Raven along with dahlias and seeds; this was a definite for my wish list after having seen it several times in Christina’s Hesperides Garden. Unfortunately it also looks set to become another favourite of the local molluscs:

IMG_2245And I am definitely well pleased to have sweet peas in flower, as this is the first year I have really made an effort with them, These are ‘Purple Pimpernel’, a 99p trial packet from Thompson and Morgan, and were sown in October and overwintered. I have other sweet peas sown in January (a little further behind) and some trial ones from Which? Gardening sown in April. These Purple Pimpernel are a pretty two-tone purple, have really long stems and, true to form, smell beautiful…..


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44 Responses to Slugging it Out

  1. cmchesebro says:

    The colors are breathtaking! How lovely!

  2. Slug – that word says it all and every gardener feels your pain.

  3. janeykate says:

    I love sweet peas, im growing some this year, but something seems to think they are dinner. They are being eaten before they even get started 😦
    Jane x

    • Cathy says:

      Oh, that’s a shame, Jane. I start mine off inside, but I must admit I am surprised the slugs have not been looking for sweet pea dinner since I planted them out!

  4. Liz says:

    Hi Cathy,

    Oh my, look how many slugs are on just the one bloom!!! So frustrating, isn’t it? I remember someone telling me that apparently either slugs or snails don’t climb. What a lie. I’ve seen both, quite high up – in a Buddleja and obviously in your Clematis.

    Your blooms are beautifuly, regardless. I really should have more Clematis’ in the garden… No sweet peas for me this year – the first time since moving here – and I’m regretting it now. I might see if I can spot any in a garden centre (it’s a bit late now though).

    • Cathy says:

      If I want a distarction before I drop off to sleep I have begun to try and count (and name) the clematis here – and am surprised that it must be over 40 although I have usually fallen asleep before I finish counting. Better than sheep! πŸ˜‰ Hope you find some sweet peas locally. For too long I have been hearing about people picking armfuls of them so I am glad I have made the effort to give them some attention and hopefully it will pay off in due course πŸ™‚

  5. rusty duck says:

    Oh no! Your poor clematis.. I’ve about had it with slugs now. They, and their chums the snails, get flying lessons here.

  6. Cathy says:

    Oh, how I sympathise! Our slugs and snails have been on a gourmet diet of seedlings and parsley salad, artichoke plants and echinacea as a main course, and dahlias for dessert! 😦

    • Cathy says:

      Oh Cathy – sounds as if they have wreaked devastion! So far they have just made things look untidy here – I have even got some sunflowers more than a few inches high and they are usually the first things to go πŸ˜‰

      • Cathy says:

        My sunflower seedlings lasted three days and then disappeared… I reserved two for pots, so hope they are overlooked! πŸ˜‰

  7. Slugsnsnails – Yuch! They’re so much worse than last year – the downside of the mild, damp winter, no doubt. Funny how they attacked Rebbeca and ignored Josphine! What did she do to upset them? It never ceases to amaze me the heights they can reach! I’m picturing the next edition of the “Good Slug Pub Guide” as we speak! πŸ˜‰

  8. Chloris says:

    I love your sweet peas. Gorgeous colours.
    In my garden they love dahlias and Josephine and Ville de Lyon seem to be the clematis at the top of the slug menu. In the veg garden, dill, french beans and pak choy are the choicest nibbles. Oh, and basil, how they love basil. A really bad year for slugs and snails. The only thing I find keeps them off is coffee grounds. But we only have coffee once a day so there aren’ t enough coffee grounds to go round all the vulnerable plants.

    • AnnetteM says:

      That is a good tip – I must try it in my pots – they have already nibbled a new petunia back to the stalk!

    • Cathy says:

      I did wonder whether if it was a particularly bad year for them – well, good for slugs and snails, bad for our plants, as they are not normally a problem. If you think coffee grounds work (and I only have ground coffee once a day too) I might use it around sunflowers or perhaps courgettes, both of which are quite exposed. Presumably it doesn’t stay effective for long though?

  9. Julie says:

    Great title for your post, slugs wear parachutes here and drop in from above. Just dug out all of the Pac Choy as what they had left was petty grim. What a really lovely Sweet Pea too.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Julie – and now I have have healthy sweet peas I now need to keep them flowering. That’s my next challenge!

  10. Kris P says:

    Nasty slugs! That’s one thing I can say for the raccoons – they’ve dramatically reduced the number of slugs and snails I have to contend with in this garden by comparison to my former garden. Too bad they wreak havoc in the process of searching for them and their other favorite dinner treat, grubs.

  11. Julie says:

    I am suffering with a surfeit of slugs this year as well Cathy – my lupins and delphiniums are their favourite treat here. I have never sown sweet peas in October – always choosing January or February as it is such a quiet time – you have proved that they do flower earlier from an October sowing. I have February sown sweet peas in flower in my greenhouse right now so my plan this year is to sow some in October and plant them in the greenhouse for, hopefully, a very early crop. My outdoor sweet peas are growing well but still a few weeks away from flowering.

    • Cathy says:

      I had no idea when to expect the early sown ones to flower, so this is all new to me. Some of the late January sown ones are now in bud as well. I will definitely sow early again.

  12. Forty clematis?! Wow! I have just discovered that the slugs laugh at my attempts to put them off munching things in the coldframes by adding a gritty sand barrier – they appear to like it just fine, thank you very much, and my eryngiums are mere shadows of their former selves. Humph. Hope the clematis shrug off the rude invasion, they must be making a magnificent show at the moment.

    • Cathy says:

      I meant to say that I think I have over forty but I have no idea how I managed to accumulate that many, so perhaps I got it wrong! I must have had one night when I didn’t get to sleep for a bit, as since then I haven’t got beyond the first one outside the front door before I’ve fallen asleep!

  13. Annette says:

    Josephine is a pretty girl and I’m glad the slugs didn’t get her! Rainy weather sees me going around with secateurs to stop their bloody feast πŸ˜‰

    • Cathy says:

      I am amazed with Josephine’s progress – I had forgotten just how pretty she is! But, um, what do you do with the secateurs….? Do I assume you cut the little blighters in half (or some other proportion)? And, um, how does it make you feel when you do so… and what does it do to your secateurs…? πŸ˜‰

  14. AnnetteM says:

    Beautiful blooms – horrid slugs!
    Wow – forty clematis – can you recommend a couple to grow in containers up a shady fence in a very dry area of the garden under big trees? Ideally I would like one spring flowering and one summer flowering so they can mingle, nothing too fancy and preferably ones that are not prone to clematis wilt! Am I maybe asking the impossible? Perhaps I should just go for ivy?
    What a brilliant way to fall asleep – I’m amazed you can remember all the names – I am now having problems with the names of plants I know well!

    • Cathy says:

      Ah….. as I said to Janet, I only got it to over 40 once, as since then I have fallen asleep without getting past the first one! I have to confess I can’t remember all the names yet, particularly after splashing out on those 7 new alpinas earlier this year but I think I need to challenge myself to learn them all! I will have a think about what might be suitable – they have to be in a pot, do they?

      • AnnetteM says:

        Yes the soil at the top of the garden under big trees is almost non existent and covered in big roots. I thought I would put a couple of climbers in pots to train up the fence. Doesn’t have to be clematis actually, I might be better with something evergreen. Don’t worry if nothing comes to mind, I can google it and come up with something.

  15. Amy Saab says:

    You are very funny talking about the one thing i can’t stand the most…i told my husband that slugs come up straight from hell. In Birmingham, Alabama it looks like a scene from a horror movie as soon as the sky darkens. You flowers are stunning & i wish you luck on the politically correct hellions that have eaten your clematis. ~amy

  16. Pauline says:

    Would you believe that one morning I woke up and found a snail on the ceiling above me! It had climbed up the wall to the upstairs window which was open and then made its way up the wall and across the ceiling, negotiating round the curtains! Poor Rebecca, I hope she recovers and will soon look as beautiful as Josephine.

    • Cathy says:

      Rebecca is fairly new to me but she has one other bud that is just opening – now, do I protect it, set a booby trap for the slugs or just let nature take its course? The latter, probably πŸ˜‰ I suppose there are worse places to have found the slug when you woke up – but what stamina for it to have got as far as it did! I found one in the bathroom (downstairs) last week – how he made his way there I have no idea!

  17. Christina says:

    If you think your slugs are bad you should see the ones here, they are enormous and are spotted! I am very envious of the sweetpeas. I’ve never been successfull with them but I know the reason, they don’t get enough water! Maybe next year now I have an irrigated cuttings bed.

    • Cathy says:

      Now mine have started to flower I need to make sure they are nurtured – so watering sounds like a sensible idea from your experience. I am well-pleased so far, though! It will be interesting to see whether you can grow them successfully with irrigation. Enormous and spotted slugs….you can keep them πŸ™‚

  18. Anna says:

    Brilliant post title. The mountaineering skills of molluscs never cease to amaze Cathy but what audacity to come out to play in the daylight. ‘Purple Pimpernel’ seems most aptly named. How do you rate them in the scent department?

    • Cathy says:

      I am no expert with sweet peas and was puzzled that there was no smell when they first opened, but a couple of days later they were definitely fully fragrant πŸ™‚

  19. Rick Nelson says:

    Finding slugs actually on the window panes freaks me out! Have you tried garlic spray, some people swear by it? Envious of the Sweet Peas.

    • Cathy says:

      I have not had any make it into the house till this year, but they often climb up the outside wall by the front door – I leave them be there, although if they attacked the rose there they would soon regret it!

  20. if it’s not one thing it’s the other Cathy, when reading the plight of your clematis I did wonder if it was slugs or could it be earwigs which I am finding worst than slugs in my garden, but caught in the act leaves no room for doubt, your nicer than me I would have killed them not just removed them to else where, the sweet peas sound lovely in both sight and smell, Frances

    • Cathy says:

      Ah, after I removed them I did stand on them – my reference to the ‘well trodden path’ was clearly too subtle!! In previous years I have tolerated them, but there are too many of the blighters this year!!

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