|I live in The Netherlands. Sometimes, folks ask me if Holland is the same country. Yes, I tell them. It's a small, densely populated country on the North Sea, protected by two land masses to the west: the British Isles and Ireland. The rest is bordered by France, Germany, and Belgium.
The terrain is flat and much of the land was made by replacing water with sand and earth and creating a series of canals and dikes to control the water. The Dutch call the newly claimed land polders.
Pretty awesome stuff... finding a way to claim land from sea and keep it dry for centuries...
I am in Leiden and we are close, about 5 miles, from the sea. While it can rain continuously, it is also possible to have brilliant sunny weather. Dutch painters are famous (I think) because of their skill at capturing this very particular light.
All this to tell you that it is usually damp here. Not humid though; the constant wind keeps the air dry and clean here. But the soil can remain moist and, come to find out, slugs and snails LOVE moist damp ground.
Not only do they love moist damp ground, but they love any number of flower petals and plant leaves. They devour them, wiping them off the face of your garden.
Not that I'm a gardener, mind you. I'm a nut with a rake and pruning shears. I prefer perennial plants whose leaves attain colors in browns, greens, purples, pinks, and reds. I have discovered, thanks to the snails and slugs, a love of evergreens and ferns and plants with big erose leaves.
Around them I plant dainty and silly impatients... musty pink and blatant orange along side various shades of raspberry and magenta. I'm not much for spring flowers sprouting from bulbs ... it's their long elegant and quickly dead leaves or shoots that I find so depressing.
Anyway, back to the slugs and snails. When I first tackled our garden (tuin in Dutch), I didn't know much about those slimy critters. What I did know: they don't eat the slender sleeves from spring bulbs nor do they eat the fragile petals falling relentlessly from the 80-year-old magnolia tree in my garden. It is an endless battle, really.
The tree, which provides shade and has some interesting bends, is always doing something. It protects its flowers with pods, which fall to the ground before the flowers fully bloom. Full beautiful bloom lasts for just one week. After which it rains silky slippery petals every-fucking-where. They dry out and crinkle fast, folding and clinging to every manner of thing in the garden.
Then the tree drops some kind of hard knobby things. All to be topped off in autumn with a cascade of leaves covering the entire garden.
Every year, I ask myself the same thing: why don't the slugs and snails eat the bounty from this magnolia tree????? It'd be a slug_fest... a bonanza of gigantic proportions. But sadly... they notice it not.
Last year, I had had enough. Enough of the stupid tree spilling its spent biomass all over the garden and enough of the slime balls, eating everything except magnolia droppings. I snapped...and reverted to a "top of the food chain... king of the jungle" mentality. I am lord over this garden, I suppose was how my brain saw it. "Thou drone, thou snail, thou slug, thou sot" I shall take care of you with the environmentally friendly poison I bought. At the very least, I could do something about the slugs.
Let me tell you: never poison anything. Don't kill other creatures without some god awful good reason. It was horrible, what I'd done. I went out a few days after putting out the poison and saw these creatures all bubbled and blackened and realized what an awful thing I'd done.
First, I took away the poison pellets. Then I did what I should have done from the beginning: research which plants and flowers would be unappetizing to these garden creatures.
As it turned out, impatients, among the easiest annuals to grow, have little allure for the snails and slugs. The gorgeous leafy heuchera is totally ignored by the gastropods. As are most evergreens. So I've planted several bushes that have pink and red tipped leaves and give the garden life all year round.
Funny that the lovely and peaceful garden was shaped by the fleshy slow moving slime creatures making their living there.
The thing is, gardens shouldn't belong to anyone... they should be shared among many creatures, like husbands, dogs, kids, spiders, various hard cased crawly insects, merels and other birds, an evil stray cat or two, and, of course, the snails and slugs.
These days I take care not to step on the slimy buggers. The impatients I plant are only a food of last resort and usually start to disappear in September. And that's okay. I look for their whimsical silvery snail trails. And... I hope they can somehow forgive me for what I did. In the end, it turns out far easier to live with them than to fight them. Heh. I can't say the same for that damned magnolia tree, but it's a test. Penance, perhaps, for my stupid and lowly human arrogance and ignorance.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."