Vine Weevil

vine weevil, roots

Worse than them cousins that appear empty-handed every Christmas, eat all of your mince pies, clear out your drinks cabinet and then reappear twelve months later unannounced… Vine Weevil are one of them that just make my blood boil. I hate them, nobody likes them and really they have zero characteristics of benefit to anyone but themselves. Harsh ? You have no idea….

Who Are These Little F@*?ers ?

Vine Weevil or Otiorhynchus sulcatus have a life cycle similar to that of a butterfly and depending on the stage they are at, is dependent on the damage type they will cause. Never seen ’em before ? They look very like something the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Outta Here jungle folk would eat in one of them challenges, except they are smaller. Further…

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Two of the photographs above are of a collection of Sorbus trees that I had in my garden. They are now nothing but a pile of ashes. The sorbus you see are members of the rosaceae or rose family – the most of which are susceptible to a disease known as fireblight.

The first thing I noticed was that the leaves were shrivelled, dead and still clinging to the plant. [These photographs were taken the last week in January btw]. The buds were also dead but still held to the plant. When I checked inside they too were gone. Necrosis had set in and the stems were dying from the top down.

The cause of this is the bacteria Erwinia amylovora spread generally by the wind blowing, insects and rain splash. It is that simple.

The recommended method of control used to be to burn the plant and that was the route I chose. I guess old habits die hard 😉 But some books recommend the pruning of the plant well below where the fireblight can be found. I simply prefer the better safe than sorry route and the chances of it affecting some of the many other Sorbus sp. that are planted in my garden.

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Garden Hygiene

garden hygiene...

garden hygiene...

I remember when I was about 14 years old I’d been given this summer project of my parents front and back garden. Lopping shears, shears and my secateurs in hand I went for it.

The place had become quite overgrown. Of course when filled with plants like the Fuchsia, Forsythia, Eleagnus, Senecio, Spirea Ligustrums and the like… the types guaranteed to grow and what also would have been so popular and reticent of the 1980’s. I took them right down from about 10/12′ tall to about 2-3′. The place hadn’t been touched in ages. Within no time at all, Mom was out and I was being labelled a butcher!

One must appreciate that at this stage I had been working and reading up on my plants since I was about 5 years old and whilst I had done and been paid to do this for others…. Mom wasn’t impressed, at all! I think she liked things nice and very neatly trimmed… but never cut back for the benefit of the plant long term wise….

it left an unsightly appearance…  

The plants had become very woody. Extremely woody in fact. But as I said they are that genre. That is what this group of plants do.

The plants had grown into each other so much so that the bases of some had begun to rot. The flower quality wasn’t the greatest either and minor problems, albeit nothing that the more mature plant couldn’t cope with, had begun to appear on the foliage. Again, whilst not wasn’t such a problem for the bigger boys, the smaller more delicate plants nearby were getting a battering from insects, disease vectors and wind/ rain transferable diseases.

Garden hygiene as it is known is of great importance…



Assuming you have trees growing in your garden that will not grow to 60′ tall…. and assuming you live in a garden where that is not the case… one should prune upwards of the stem rather than ‘top’ the tree. Crown raise as it is known.

The more vigorous ‘shrubs’ should then be cut back and hard. This allows the regeneration of the new growth, the removal of dead and diseased wood from the plant and equaly as important the removal of a season long of debris falling to the base of the plant where micro climates may build up increasing the possibility of pest  and diseases.

The ideal scenario to create is that there is wind movement through the plants and this in itself will help prevent pests and diseases from harbouring within an extremely sheltered space that is your garden.  

This then also allows for the removal of any weeds or plants growing where they really shouldn’t be….



Once this is done… a good layer of bark down and you’re pretty much good to go. The key now is to remember how big the plants actually grew… so as you don’t end up putting plants into a gap where it won’t be seen in 6 months time or/and where overcrowding may once more occur. I guess a lot of this comes back to good planning and good design.

Do remember that it is a garden and it is supposed to be for enjoyment rather than endurance 😉 Also most plants are on the verge of dormancy and now is not such a bad time to get at this laborious chore. If the next question is ‘is now the righ time….?’ The answer is, if your garden requires some tending to and it will save the plant, even though it may not flower, then it is…

If you are unsure of what and not to do… don’t be afraid to pay for some advice and guidance and whatever you do make sure and get someone who really knows what they are talking about. Yes… someone as intelligent and as good looking [if that is possible…] as me 😆

Of course you can also leave a comment below…

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what’s eating my plants

I couldn’t believe it when I looked outside and saw, literally every cabbage plant, stripped. What is left over,  probably hasn’t got long left.

This little git is the catterpillar and will eventually become a butterfly – as I’m sure you already know. But how, domestically and non chemically do I deal with the little insect.

The only solution is to pick them off and cover with a horticultural fleece to prevent them returning to their f-l-avoured leaf. I’d better get started on my 100 plants, while I have some left!

Apart from the obvious signs one will know if it is catterpillar [in this case] because they cannot eat the large veins of the plant as its mouth parts are not big enough. That said if the catterpillars are not there be careful, not to confuse the damage with what could be that of birds… you’ll know this because the bites [holes] are not interveinal [though the veins] as their mouth parts can eat through any part of the leaf.