Friday, March 1, 2019

Is this a new pest so far unaddressed by the USDA?

It seems that March this year came in not as a lamb, not as a lion, not, as expected last night, as a snow leopard, but rather to the strains of a Rossini opera, La gazza ladra.

The buds on the willows are swelling, the birds are singing more, the hellebores, witch hazels, winter aconites, tommies, winter jasmine and snowdrops are blooming.

But, not all the signs of spring are welcome! Much as I enjoy the daily increase in birdsong at this time of year, one of the ‘’avian” visitors was definitely in the non grata category: La gazza ladra has made a visit, drawn from its lair by the blooming of the snowdrops.

While checking out the hellebores and witch hazels at the back of the garden yesterday, I had a disturbing surprise: the garden was the scene of snowdrop theft recently. Right in the middle of a wide band of long-established snowdrops there is a bare space about eighteen inches long and the width of a square-tipped shovel. Scattered nearby are some separated leaves and debris.

Although this ugly event puts me in some distinguished company, I would gladly have declined membership in this group! My garden is full of plants acquired fairly from friends: these remind me of those friendships long after the friends have moved on or the friends themselves have passed. When I have garden visitors, I sometimes identify these plants by the names of their donors. Some of you reading this are remembered in this way.

Please do me a favor: if, when visiting other gardens, the garden owner should slip and identify some snowdrops as "the snowdrops I purloined from Jim", please keep it to yourself - I don't want to know this about someone.

For those of you not into Rossini, La gazza ladra means "The thieving magpie". But of course it was not a magpie which did the deed: it was Homo sapiens galanthokleptistatus, a vile, feculent creature which seems to be on the increase.

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