Monday 10 June 2019

Since we last met

I have mostly been

picking these - the box moth caterpillar
off the box hedges in our garden.
They have devastated them.
Stripped them to bare branches 
and then started gnawing on the branches
before abseiling off on silken threads to the next bush.
But we have made an impression
and after removing in excess of 5000
with tweezers,
new green leaves are sprouting.
No doubt these will feed the next generation of
caterpillars presently being laid by the caterpillars
that we didn't catch before they pupated.

But it wasn't all garden warfare.

We spent a week in the Malvern Hills,
staying at Perrycroft, a beautifully restored Voysey house 
with cottages for the workers holidaymakers.

We had free access to the main gardens
which were so perfect,
but we could not help shuddering at the thought of the havoc
that the box moth would  wreak on all the immaculate topiary
and we looked for telltale signs of browned leaves.

The hills were steep and numerous.
I think we yomped up all but one.
Going down was hard on the knees
but the views were worth it.

And then to my great surprise we learnt that the Hay Festival was on,
only an hour's drive away

and that there were still tickets to be had,
so we went to hear Kate Humble
and Monty Don and Derry Moore
talking about their latest books
Thinking on my Feet and Japanese Gardens respectively.

Summer is racing away,
but today has been like winter.
Dark by 3.30 and the heating is back on.
Welcome for gardeners and farmers
but very lowering to the spirit.

I made hot chocolate
and talked to my son in New York
about a trip to sunnier climes.


  1. Sorry, I must stop making plans to meet one of my daughters for lunch. It keeps on making it rain.
    I hadn't realised it was Europe wide...

    1. It didn't rain much today so I hope you met your daughter.

  2. 5,000 caterpillars!! (gulp!) That doesn't sound like the most pleasant gardening. I can't imagine a similar plague in my garden, but I know very well I would feel very defeated by the whole thing.

  3. Your dedication to eradication is to be applauded! I just hope that it lasts.

    1. Me too. A passer by stopped to talk to me in the front garden this evening. She has noticed these brown hedges everywhere but didn't know the cause.

  4. I think once you pick the 5000th caterpillar it automatically qualifies as an extreme sport. I bet it felt like that. How dispiriting Lucille. I hope none of them hitched a ride with you to Malvern, those gardens are so beautiful. And I love that window catch.
    I must go to the Hay festival one of these years, it's only about an hour from me.

    1. We were so careful! I washed my shoes and boots.
      The action of picking the caterpillars off takes on a Zen like quality. There are none left now, but I still look.
      I had never been to Hay. It seemed too much trouble to organise, but it fell into my lap this time.

  5. I have a similar relationship with the lupin aphid, which is ALL OVER the lupin in the front garden and nowhere to be seen in the back garden (thank goodness. Yet.) Lupin aphids are squashable, though they make a horrid POP when you do so (urrrrrrgggghhhh). I wonder what you do with the caterpillars. (Don't tell me.) Otherwise - lovely post!

    1. I don't squash them. It's a much more peaceful end than that. By the way if you see this could you let me know if you have seen any of my comments lately? I leave them, but they don't appear.

    2. No, no comments from you. Sorry! Now you've got me thinking about the peaceful end of box caterpillars. I wish I could think of a peaceful end for my lupin aphids. I hate squashing them!