February 21

More sunshine but a very light frost overnight.  Fernando still sick in bed and looking like he will be there for a few days.  We were supposed to be going to Vancouver tomorrow to clear all remaining possessions out of the old house in Burnaby.  Our friends Martin and Makie and their 2 kids have been given notice to be out of the house by the end of February as the owner wants to move in.  I don’t really believe this.  I think they have finally realized that they have been undervaluing the possible rent on the house by 50% and the only way they can get the market value for rental is to move in and then move out again.  They would never be allowed to raise the rent by 100% at one time.  Oh well, it was a great run while it lasted: 8 years for Fernando and I and almost 5 years for Martin and Makie.

 Narcissus in the Albion Manor Garden

Narcissus in the Albion Manor Garden

I have been doing research into Narcissus Bulb Fly which is definitely a problem.  In some places where they used to be lots of daffs, there are now only a few.   This fly lays an egg at the bottom of the stem and the grub works its way down to the bulb where in burrows inside that then spends its days eating the inside of the bulb.  It doesn’t actually kill the bulb but it kills the new blower.  The bulb will divide and will come up again the next year (apparently) but there will be no flower in the current year.  Of course, there will be more flies and more grubs and etc.

So the trick will be to look for leaves with no flowers, then dig these out hopefully before the grub can emerge as the fly waiting to lay more eggs.   Now there’s a mission if ever there was one.

I thought the adult was more of a moth but it turns out that it is more like a bumble bee except that bees have 2 sets of wings while these flies have only one.   The idea that while I am enjoying these beautiful flowers there is something in the down there, in the soil, maybe even inside the bulb that is eating away at their very soul is very disheartening.  However, I am off to buy a butterfly net to try to catch the flies.  Each one lays about 100 ebbs so each one I can catch is 100 daffodils that will be safe and sound.

 

Narcissus Bulb Fly- the little buggers

Some people recommend planting a close-knit ground cover over the bulbs, because the flies need to get right to the soil to lay their eggs at the base of the flower stem.  This would mean that for maybe the first year until the ground covers get established the blubs would be vulnerable, but at least it would be a start.  I guess bulbs could be added in later years if it was obvious that there was an empty spot. Creeping phlox, periwinkle and ivy are some possibilities.  I’m not wild about the ivy so am looking for quantities of creeping phlox and periwinkle.

Here are a few other ground covers that would do the trick, with thanks to GardenWise:

• variegated wall rock cress, Arabis caucasica ‘Variegata’
• aubrietia, Aubrieta cultivars
• candytuft, Iberis sempervirens
• Dalmatian bellflower, Campanula portenschlagiana
• creeping jenny, Lysimachia nummularia
• creeping phlox, moss phlox, Phlox subulata
rock soapwort, Saponaria ocymoides
• gold-spotted London pride, Saxifraga ‘Aureopunctata’
• lamb’s ears, Stachys byzantina
• woolly thyme, Thymus pseudolanuginosus
• mother-of-thyme, Thymus serpyllum
• common thyme, Thymus vulgaris

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