Iris Silver Edge

Under Attack!

Normally I don’t have many problems with slugs and snails in the garden, probably because we have a low rainfall here. But when they do appear, it seems that they’re keen to snack on the flowers that I most want to photograph.

Some flowers seem to be particularly tempting to the hungry critters. For a few years we had a lovely pale blue clematis (Perle d’Azur) in a large wooden tub. Well, it should have been lovely, and sometimes it was, but just for a little while. Sooner or later the slugs and snails would find it and reduce the flowers to lacework.

Irises are another flower that tend to get a bit chewed. Sometimes, as with the top photograph, I have to avoid having damaged parts of the petals show. With this one (Iris sibirica ‘Silver Edge’), I had to find a low angle that hid a prominent hole in one petal and then crop to remove extensive damage on another petal.

The occasional damaged petal is one thing, but sometimes the damage is much worse. While living in Scotland (more slugs and snails there!) I decided to grow an assortment of sunflowers to photograph. So I was dismayed to discover that all my seedlings had their stems chewed right through at the base. No sunflowers for me!

I’ve had similar damage to the irises too. I was glad to be able to photograph the iris below because the year before I was denied that chance. The buds on the iris’s first and single flower stem were almost ready to open and looked really promising with their soft shades of caramel and pink. Excitedly, I visited in the morning to see if the top flower had opened and was ready for me to photograph it. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered the flower stem lying on the ground, looking sad and wilted, with its stem chewed the whole way through. I could have cried!

Since then, I have discovered that it helps to surround vulnerable plants with a circle of either gritty sand or wood ash from our woodburner. But sometimes only careful cropping or the use of digital heal and clone tools can save a photograph.

Bearded iris 'Top Gun'

18 thoughts on “Under Attack!

  1. The combination of colors in that second iris are so nice. Unusual, too: at least for me. I suppose gardeners are more accustomed to the colors that don’t naturally appear in nature. The wood ash trick’s a new one for me, too. I’m going to tell a friend who has plenty of plants and plenty of wood ash about it. It won’t deter the deer or rabbits, but it might do well for her with other insects and small critters.

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    1. The wood ash needs to be kept away from plant stems – I think it would harm them. But I just put a ring of that or sand at a little distance from the plant to make it hard for the s&s to get through to it. A lot of gardeners say that copper tape works well for pots but I’ve never tried it myself.

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    1. Thanks Liz! I was so glad that the second one actually had a chance to open its flowers this time! My collection of blue flowers is growing – it’s one of my favourite colours. πŸ™‚

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  2. That’s so frustrating! I have some very similarly coloured irises and luckily nothing bothered them this year. My roses are a different story. Every type of bug and blight seems to be attracted to them. For slugs, I have friends who buy the copper dish scrubbing pads and pull them apart to make a mesh to put around their plants. They say this works well. Good Luck! The photos are amazing!

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    1. Thanks Laurel! The copper scrubbing pad idea sounds really good. I’ve only seen the Brillo pads here, which aren’t copper but I wonder if they’d work. They’re certainly very rough. I hope your roses recover and have a chance to bloom healthily. πŸ™‚

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    1. I’m glad to say that I rarely see earwigs here, though I’m sure that they do come along and have sneaky little feasts…eek! There are so many hungry critters out there!

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    1. Thanks Indira! There always seems to be something ready to munch at our plants. I’ve noticed greenfly having a go at a young plum tree, but I was much happier to see that there were plenty of ladybird larvae too. Hopefully they have good appetites and eat all the greenfly!

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  3. Why can’t they pick on the ugly plants? Well, because there are none. πŸ™‚ That is a gorgeous bearded iris, Ann. I had a similar disappointment last year when I went out to photograph my yellow lady’s slipper only to find a deer, most likely, had decided to take a nibble leaving only the stem.

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    1. Ouch! I understand the pain of having your flowers eaten only too well. And it reminds me of my Mum’s frustration and disappointment when sheep broke into the garden and ate her tulips. (She’d been so pleased with them.) Poor Mum!

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  4. Flower pix are fabulous! I love the color of the Iris – never seen one like that. I know what you mean about pests attacking your flowers. Unfortunately I have a major problem with the neighborhood pets (the local deer group and rabbits eating most of my blooms) and the very aggressive ants that seem to be everywhere in my yard. I have had to clone out so many ants in my flower images it is crazy. Luckily they don’t seem to damage the plants too much. Glad I do not have any slugs that I know of!

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    1. Thanks Syd! Irises are fabulous for colour – makes it very tempting to get more! I have the same cloning jobs to do, but in my case it’s usually greenfly or cat hairs. Both can be really hard to see while you’re taking the photograph, argh! I think I need to buy a decent magnifier so that I can check beforehand… πŸ™‚

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      1. I have misembrianthamums surrounded by eggshells at the moment but seeing flowers, especially tiny seedlings chewed through is so demoralising. You have still managed nice photos though. I refuse to put slug pellets down and have even picked off slimy critters by hand and moved them onto clumps outside my garden.

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      2. I never use slug pellets either and just dump the little pests somewhere else – behind the compost heap maybe! We had a resident thrush in our last garden and it had its stone for smashing shells. We made sure that never got moved.

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  5. The flowers are lovely, damage or not. If you hadn’t told us about their little flaws, we would never have known.
    I hope you can find a way to coexist with your hungry garden visitors without losing too many of your floral bounty.

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    1. I just ignore these unwelcome visitors or dump them in a weedy corner. But snails have been shown to return to their ‘home patch’, so that probably doesn’t make much difference!

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