Dandelion Lawn

Our lawn in its natural state Photo: PK Read

Our lawn in its natural state
Photo: PK Read

I usually wait until the last possible moment to mow the lawn for the first time in spring. People set different lawn priorities – mine has never been a lawn of putting-green pristine uniformity. Every year I swear I’ll dig up our little patch in autumn and give it a face-lift. Every spring and summer, when it bursts forth with all manner of flowering weeds, I think to myself how much I like the random gathering of seeds that have taken up residence here. Then I mow the lot of them into a single level of green carpet. Yesterday was the day, and this was the yellowest corner of the garden, pre-chop. Usually the lawn would have been a-buzz with bees on the prowl – this year I only found one bee and a couple of bumblebees.

Garden snail (Helix aspersa) Photo: PK Read

Garden snail (Helix aspersa)
Photo: PK Read

I found this fat snail, a petit gris, meandering across our flagstones. When we moved here, the garden was in a much wilder state and I used to find dozens of brown garden snails every year. I tried to get rid of them, but one day, my elderly French neighbor saw me pitching them over the hedge into the street and stopped me. “I’ll take them, bring them to me.” For what? First, a round of gorging and hermaphrodite mating in the compost, then a bout of purging in a snail house, and then…the dinner plate. Of course.

I never picked up the habit of eating this particular crop from our garden, but I did start putting the snails into our compost when I found them, and they seemed happy to stay in that corner of the world. I’ve noticed over the past couple of years, however, that there are far fewer snails than there used to be. The snail I found yesterday was the first I’ve seen all season. I let it continue on on its way after stopping for a photo.

On the off chance that you might be interested in cultivating and consuming your garden snails rather than simply eradicating them:

Eating Garden Snails blog