One day last week I was asked to remove last year’s flowers from a mop-head hydrangea. It’s normal to leave the flowers on over the winter, as they look quite decorative, and then snip them off in the spring (not too early, as they provide some protection from the frost for the new growth). Normally, this particular customer would do this kind of thing herself, but she had been so busy that she hadn’t got around to it. So she asked me to do it.
Spot the problem!
My long established technique is to take hold of the spent bloom with one hand and snip it off with the secateurs with the other. That way I can collect them up until my hand can’t hold any more, when I pop them into a bag, and carry on. I’d done about a dozen before I noticed some insects buzzing around. I thought they might be wasps, but I wasn’t sure – my close vision isn’t too good these days.
I carried on grabbing and snipping, grabbing and snipping. I noticed the insects were focussing on a particular point on the plant. And when I looked closer, I could see that yes, they were wasps. And then I saw the nest, cleverly attached directly beneath one of the old flowers. Imagine if I’d attempted to grab and snip that particular flower! I managed to get all but three of the blooms (including, rather obviously, the one with the nest underneath!) before the blighters realised I was there and started to get a bit anxious
There are dangers lurking in the garden – be careful how you go…
Words and images ©Graham Wright 2018