Just under two years ago I sowed some seeds of various winter-growing things. There were melasphaerula (an irid with lots of tiny yellow flowers), canarina (A Canarian bellflower that blooms in early spring), Canarian giant dandelions (sonchus) and wild cinerarias (pericallis) from, yes you guessed it, the Canaries. I will feature some of these soon since they have all done well. Another packet was of Aeonium canariense. I am sure you can see a theme here. It was a bit of a daft choice in a way since there are more beautiful aeoniums, notably with black leaves, but I wanted to see how they developed from seed. Sure enough, they were fascinating, with tiny, fleshy seedlings with two seed leaves but they quickly developed a tiny rosette and looked like miniature adults. The base of the stem stayed remarkably slender but the plants supported themselves by reflexing the lower leaves against the top of the pot. Two of the best made it in to the conservatory and looked very fine. But pride comes before a fall.
One day when watering I noticed some frass on the window sill.
And I did not take the hint.
I must have brought in a plant that had a caterpillar on it. And it was eating something, but what?
A few days later I looked in again and it was blindingly obvious. My aeonium had leaves like the edge of a bread knife. The caterpillar was not content with eating my plant, oh no, it only wanted the edges of ALL the leaves, ruining every single one.
I know it was not a personal attack and I know that gardeners need thick skins but really, did this little monster have to attack every leaf?
A more thorough search discovered the culprit, clad in a fetching outfit that matched his lunch perfectly. He was tossed onto the garden path where he, hopefully, quickly became lunch for a passing robin.
Of course he may have crawled under a stone, waiting for me to plant out something really tasty. But thinking that would be paranoid wouldn’t it.