Lily beetles on the offensive

This week has seen me on my hands and knees – not a big surprise in itself to those who know me!

But I was on a particular quest: one of our Gardeners has gone on a bursary trip to China and has tasked me with being on lily beetle watch on the Peat Terrace for her. It is the time when they are out and about and so I duly headed onto the Peat Terrace.

Now, lily beetles are blessed with being bright red and very easy to spot once you have your eye in. It does become a bit of a battle as, if you are not careful, the little blighters fall off and onto their backs in the soil where they become nigh on invisible. So I have devised a method of spotting them from a distance before cupping my hand under and around the lily stem and then shaking it gently.

The beetles then fall conveniently into my palm, where I despatch them on the rocks that are scattered about on the peat terrace with my boots. I am not one to kill anything smaller than myself normally, but seeing the devastation they have done to the lilies on the main borders this year, I have become quite immune to any guilt - the flower buds have been completely destroyed on our lovely Lilium 'Scheherazade' which is normally a fabulous lily - tall and very scented.

I am keeping a tally and my record to beat is 16 in one session so far. I try to do this before the gardens open - not because I think the visitors would be squeamish, but because the sight of me lurching haphazardly from rock to rock rather like an unfit gazelle would set them off wondering what style of gardening we are deploying these days!

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