Zen and the art of lawn maintenance – paradise lost

One moment I was happily mowing the lawn wandering up and down in a zen like trance when suddenly my happiness was taken from me.

24th April: Things I have been doing today. 

🌺 Lawn maintenance: By now your lawn should be growing fast and all that growth needs taking care of. You should be watering regularly (at least every third night). Apply another granulated feed now and make sure you water this in. Then of course you mow regularly, set your blades to a medium height to ensure you don’t let the lawn scorch. Then you can blissfully wander up and down in a zen like state of happiness; lawn mowing is like motorcycling only less dangerous and you don’t have to wear leathers. After I had finished mowing the lawn I sat on the tree seat under our Mulberry tree and took the picture below looking through the roses across the lawn in a perfect state of happiness. By chance I glanced to my left and saw a terrible sight that made my blood run cold, my cry of anguish I am reliably told was heard in the Canary Islands – it was only bloody Sawfly caterpillars – and with all due respect to Milton, my own paradise was lost!

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A well mown lawn – before the gates of hell opened

🌺 Dealing with Rose pests: Sawfly are a deadly pest that specialise in eating roses; and they do it quickly. The adult female saws into a rose branch, lays her eggs and then when they hatch into caterpillars they eat in a pack and treat your roses like a Wok Buffet on an all you can eat night, see picture below. From the time they hatch in a morning they can easily strip a rose branch. Now the interesting thing about Sawfly caterpillars is that the eggs are laid right at the top of a branch and then the caterpillars eat their way down to the soil then pupate in the soil ready to breed next year’s devil spawn. They are built in such a way they can only climb down and never back up again’ when I first encountered them two years ago I would just pick them off me throw them away, safe in the knowledge that they could not climb up again. But sadly I was throwing them down to where they wanted to be and they happily pupated in the soil ably assisted by me; I was a sort of Sawfly taxi service home after a good meal. Last year I changed tactic and picked off every caterpillar and destroyed them humanely – yeah right! – they got what they deserved.

Now they are back I will spend every morning for the next few weeks inspecting each rose branch – with my glasses on – that’s how serious it is. The problem with Sawfly is they have perfected the trick of hatching at different times so that predators cannot take out a whole generation, so you have to be vigilant over a two to three week period. I am thinking of camping out overnight by the roses – my wife thinks I’m an idiot, but she just doesn’t understand that this time it’s personal.

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Sawfly caterpillars eating a rose leaf – they might as well eat my heart

Author: spanishgarden

I live in both Spain and the UK and am a very keen gardener. I garden every day and enjoy sharing all the secrets that God allows us to discover in our gardens.