Garden lore

The moment the trees are in bud and the soil is ready to be worked, I generally come down with a crippling muscular complaint as yet unclassified by science. Suffering untold agonies, I nonetheless have myself wheeled to the side line and coach a small, gnarled man of seventy in the preparation of the seed-bed. The division of labour works out perfectly; he spades, pulverizes and rakes the ground, while I call out encouragement and dock his pay whenever he straightens up to light his pipe. The relationship is an ideal one, and I know he will never leave me as long as the chain remains fastened to his leg.

Acres and Pains by S J Perelman (1951).

The narcissi flies are on the wing

The inoffensive adult fly (photo credit: Sandy Rae via Wiki Commons)

The inoffensive adult fly (photo credit: Sandy Rae via Wiki Commons)

The Nazi flies are on the wing. That is what we call the dreaded narcissus fly here. It lays an egg in each of the leaf crowns of the bulbs. That egg hatches in to a larva which wriggles down, enters the bulb and eats it from inside out. Narcissus fly loves daffodil bulbs but also attack a range of other bulbs, including hippeastrums, snowdrops, snowflakes and, apparently, hyacinths. Mark stalks them with a little sprayer of the insecticide, Decis, which is just a synthetic pyrethroid, similar to a strong flyspray. If you are not so inclined, remove the dead and withering foliage of daffodils now and pile a few cm of soil or mulch on top. It makes it much more difficult for the fly to find the crown of the bulb. The narcissus fly resembles a baby bumble bee.