Saturday 12 May 2012

What’s eating my garden?!

We have sunshine! After something like 35 days of rain, either during daytime or night time – or both, we have finally got a few days with sun :-) I spent yesterday outside in the garden, and although it was a chilly wind, the sun made up for any lack of feeling of warmth.

Having had all this rain lately, I haven’t really spent much time in my garden, and having been so cold, everything is very late and haven’t grown a lot anyway, so my garden haven’t really needed me in the same way as a normal April and May. It’s almost been like having January all over again! (With the added rain we didn’t get this January). But yesterday I did a good look around to see how things are progressing, what needs urgently doing and what can wait etc. and I found that I have had some rather unwelcome visitors lately. Not sure what they are, because I could not see anything to explain this, but there is obviously something that has had a massive feast on my plants the last couple of weeks! I would be inclined to blame slugs, but I know there is a whole long list of pests that can be the culprits here. What I don’t understand is the choice of leaves, when I have lots of other, softer, nicer leaves to choose from….

My dwarf rhododendron Dopey, tough leaves to eat.

Skimmia japonica, even tougher leaves, almost leather!

One of the roses, OK, so that’s probably a nice, green, fresh leaf to eat.

And look at my dwarf pieris, every little leaf looks like this!

Here is another munched rose.

My daylilies have not been spared either, pretty unsightly….

And look at this lily! I doubt that this flower will turn up normal, if I get a flower at all that is…

All these damages, except for the lily, are damages only to the leaves and won’t affect flowering much. But for the evergreens having the leaves ruined like this is pretty detrimental. I have been scattering slug pellets as I usually do, but with all the rain the pellets dissolve much faster than normal. But is it slugs that has eaten these leaves? Or is it something more sinister?

Pests and disease are something we gardener have to deal with all the time, and each garden and each season gives us different challenges. The excess rain has meant that my garden has a lot more aphids than usual, and because the weather has been colder than normal, the usual troops of ladybirds and other greenfly munching insects haven’t really appeared in any numbers yet. I spray with a fermented soya oil spray, which is amazing against greenfly, but it needs to be applied in dry weather….it can also be soaked into the ground and be taken up by the leaves and makes the environment too un-tasty for greenflies, black flies etc, but the soaking I did a couple of weeks ago has probably been washed away with all the rain. So I have lots of greenflies. LOTS. I don’t really want to resort to chemicals, haven’t used that in years, but when the leaves on the roses starts to get shiny and sticky from the aphids, it is about time to think about changing tactics. Where are the ladybirds??  

Do you know what’s been munching on the leaves in my garden? I would love to know. The sun is shining today too, and hopefully it will tomorrow too, but Monday it’s back to the rain again. I am going to enjoy the sun while it lasts :-) Take care, see you next time.


  1. Hi Helene
    I feel bad for you. First all that rain and now this leaf damage.
    I quickly Googled "leaf damage identification" and caterpillars can do the type of damage you have. Maybe take a few of the leaves to a garden centre and ask if they know, plus maybe they can offer solutions.
    Good luck!

  2. Helene - damage like this is so disheartening. It may be the 'circle of life', eco-systems and stuff, but it sure feels like we've been "invaded" when our gardens are attacked. The damage is so wide-spread? I hope you find the little buggers and get them to back off!! (I've never seen so many different plant effected in one place??) Good luck!

  3. Thanks Astrid and Shyrlene for your well wishes, I hope I find out what's going on in my garden too. The problem is, there is nothing to see! I can't see one little caterpillar, not one slug and no winged insects attached to the leaves. In fact, all I can find in my garden is aphids - oh, and I have killed 5 lily beetles so far, but they only eat lilies so they haven't been on my evergreens!

    I haven't started night patrolling yet, so I don't know what's lurking around when it's dark....that might be next step, perhaps, since nothing seems to be around during the day at least!

  4. Earwigs or bees maybe...who'll have to sleep out all night x

  5. I don't have a clue. Jane mentioned earwigs...if that's the case, you can set out small tubs or saucers of beer. Both slugs and earwigs are attracted to beer, and then they drown in it. This has worked very well for me. I hope you figure it out soon. Good luck!

  6. The daylilies look like slug damage. I've got the same damage on mine, and I found the culprits too.
    The roses may be leaf-cutter bees, nothing to worry about.
    But the pieris could be vine weevil. I really hope I'm wrong about that one, because they are very difficult to eradicate.


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