It’s hard to believe that more than a year has passed since we re-located an RHS gold medal-winning garden to a site in the heart of the ancient city of Peterborough. As I wrote at the time I absolutely loved the garden, created by local designer Jeni Cairns and community gardener Sophie Antonelli for the arts organisation Metal – it had a real sense of joyful exuberance and deliciously colourful planting.
A year later, the garden has settled brilliantly into its new setting – a walled courtyard (surrounding Chauffeur’s Cottage) next to Peterborough cathedral. If you’re in town do check it out – it’s right next to the cathedral car park. Blond sheafs of pony tail grass (Stipa tenuissima) contrast beautifully with steely-blue globe thistles (Echinops ritro) and the stately spires of veronicastrums; and the whole space is buzzing with bees and birds – the perfect antidote to the bustling city beyond the gates.
Unfortunately something else has started enjoying the garden just as much as the visitors. On one of our regular volunteering days, I noticed the telltale sign of one of the most destructive pests for container gardens such as this. Tatty looking leaves with irregular notches cut out of their edges could mean only one thing – vine weevil.
To anyone who’s grown a lot of pot plants these are two of the most terrifying words in the English language. Although the damage to plants’ leaves (caused by the nibblings of adult beetles) is unsightly, the real horror is their kids – creamy-white vine weevil larvae which feast on plant roots. Healthy-looking plants suddenly collapse as if they haven’t been watered, and often die.
So it’s a good idea to keep an eye out over the summer months for those nibbled edges (unlike slug damage there’s no slimy trail, and no holes, just notches along the sides of leaves). We used a biological control (try googling ‘vine weevil biological control’) which is simply a packet of tiny nematodes that you mix with water and apply using a watering can. These nematodes then swim into the soil and destroy the vine weevil grubs and bingo, problem solved. A gruesome but safe and organic way to a healthy garden!