First there was a fat lump of a thing found in the Yardshare Garden here in the west end while planting squashes. And then a few weeks ago we found Leopard Slugs (Limax maximus) in our friend David’s plot at the Leslie Street Allotment Garden on the east side of Toronto.
Prior to these two sightings I had never seen slugs of this size in Toronto, or this part of Canada for that matter. Our slugs are tiny little things called Gray Garden Slugs (Agriolimax reticulatus). Tiny, but pervasive! Until recently I could always ease my mind with the knowledge that while their numbers are legion, at least we don’t have the massive banana-type monsters.
And now we do.
These new slugs are European introductions, although there is speculation that they could have come from British Columbia. There is a scientist in Toronto who is currently tracking their occurrence, and while it looks like the Leopard Slug hasn’t really reached my part of town, it will soon enough.
And I thought I had my hands full with the four neighbour cats that have made our quiet yard their hang out. I feel like I’m in a horror movie, waiting for the giant insect army to invade.
- More on another giant slug found in Etobicoke, the suburb west of my home. It’s very pretty, but no thanks.
- A video (narrated by David Attenborough) of Leopard Slugs mating. Very fascinating, but again, not in my backyard!
Today, as I was going through folders of photos I took through the spring and summer months, I came upon this cheap and cheerful water feature my friend Barry devised for his garden. It looked so classy, yet was unbearably simple and didn’t cost a thing.
All he did was take three terracotta saucers of varying sizes and stack them into one another. He set overturned plastic saucers underneath the top two layers to give them height. Brilliant!
The water feature did encourage a lot of wasps to a warm and dry part of the garden, which may not be your thing, but it turned out to be a simple and stylish way to encourage and keep these beneficials doing their work in the garden. No one has ever been stung.
Last week we found an adult praying mantis hanging out on the raspberry bushes I’ve got growing in a massive planter box on the roof. I’d like to think it is the offspring of one of the baby mantids I hatched and released last spring but that’s highly unlikely since mantids don’t tend to stick around that long and we didn’t see any egg casings nearby.
More here about mantids in the garden and hatching an egg case (aka ootheca).
I was surprised by a beautiful Green Darner (Anax junius) the other day while moving some pots on the roof. I must have been out there puttering around for two hours before I noticed it quietly resting on a white sage (Salvia apiana) plant. I hope it caught some mosquitoes.
This isn’t our first dragonfly visit of the year. It’s always surprising who and what will find our little oasis in the sky. More of these and less raccoons please.
On the white sage: It’s not hardy here in Toronto, but I’ve managed to overwinter this one successfully over several seasons now by simply cutting it back hard and forgetting about it. You know, I’m not really much of a fan at this size — they are much more beautiful when they are grown as bushes, but alas I can’t really achieve that here without a bigger pot and more space. I’ve kept it in a sunny window giving it water here and there through the winter and I’ve set it in the hallway where it is cold, the windows are north-facing, and it received almost no attention. We even went away for a month last winter and friends were not instructed to water it. This plant lives on no matter what.
Here’s another close up of a plant I mentioned in the post about my roof garden’s back wall, Oxalis squamata.
In it’s pot.