(Here is the Hosta when freshly planted)
Let me just quash a familiar cliché- snails are not slow. Nor slugs. They are not only speedy, but tenacious, and sneaky. I shall tell you why I am convinced of this, and why I am busting this particular myth. In June I bought myself a beautiful Hosta plant from a lady called Elizabeth who had a plant stall at Harper’s Yard. It was lush and green of leaf and brought life and vivacity to a barren part of my hedge where the previous plant had failed to flourish. ‘Watch the slugs now,’ warned Elizabeth, as slugs, apparently, love nothing more than having a munch of a Hosta. I nodded, trying to look knowledgeable about how to do this. I know slug pellets are bad, because birds can eat them and die. We already have a cat to murder birds, so I didn’t want to reduce the life expectancy of resident sparrows any more in my locality. I read that slugs and snails don’t like egg shells, so while in Kaffe-O I asked for any discarded shells, to which the barista kindly obliged and gave me a little bag. I scattered these about with wild abandon. Visiting friends began to wonder if I was trying to deter my husband, since his dislike of eggs borders on a phobia. ‘No, he’s alright, he can stay,’ I said. ‘As long as he doesn’t harm my Hosta.’
My Hosta has now been decimated by pests. Once so fulsome and robust, it now lacks all structural integrity. I fear for its continuation. I have thus declared war on all slugs and snails and have embarked on an all out offensive, patrolling my garden and its borders with a fervour that would make Trump envious.
On Sunday it bucketed down, which brought the snail community out in force. I set about grabbing them with gusto and throwing them into the road. Looking closely at my Hosta, I spied not one but two massive snails feasting upon its inner stalks. ‘Well YOU pair can to get to fuck,’ I shrieked, sending them hurtling into oblivion. A neighbour, who was out tending to his van (he LOVES his van, if I paid my husband a modicum of the attention that he gives his van, he’d be a much happier man), thought I was waving at him. He waved back. I tried to gesture that I wasn’t waving, I was murdering snails, but since it was wet I just went inside, crunching over a few shells as I went.
I must have forcibly evicted 20 snails from my front garden. ‘Job well done,’ I congratulated myself. I’m obviously not only a novice gardener but a naïve one too, because when I went to get the cat in before bed, I was tripping over the bastards at the front door. They’ve a kamikaze sort of a notion, the snails up this direction; almost queuing up for extermination. It was like Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, except at least these fuckers can’t fly. Flying snails- that would be the end of me. Out I went, bringing down the house prices in my dressing gown and gardening gloves, as I lobbed them into the road.
‘What are up to?’ asked LSB, in a low, worried sort of a voice.
‘Protecting my Hosta!’ I growled. ‘SOMEBODY HAS TO!’ (Plants are not a priority of my husband’s.)
‘At least it’s dark,’ he sighed, retreating. Meanwhile, the cat had come in the back door, and was enjoying her supper. Our cat is ruined. We bring her in at night because if we don’t, we fear she’ll be sitting forlornly outside, wanting in. We don’t have a cat flap. A cat flap would make our lives infinitely easier.
I’ve since discovered that when snails mate, they BOTH get pregnant, which explains why there’s about a gazillion of them on my lawn. Please, should any of you have environmentally friendly ideas for pest control, do get in touch. This Hosta’s on its last legs, as sadly, are my nerves.
Here is the Hosta in its current state. (Warning, some gardeners may find this image distressing).