Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Last weekend I put a new impatiens plant in a pot beside the ginger bed for a little decor before the ginger comes up, and this morning noticed that the plant was about half its original size, when all things considered it should be heading in the other direction, dimensionwise.

A quick bit of plant forensics revealed pieces of leaves, buds and blossoms on the soil in the pot and the ground around. I thought at first it might have been a deer sampling the flowers, but, like me, deer don't throw anything away. What remained had been nibbled at, in a familiar, curvy way-- then I spotted the red, guilty-looking ants. Probably because of the heavy rains of the past few days, plus the irrational generosity of impatiens which gives away the farm by providing little droplets of nectar here and there on its person. Thus some of these ants, which love wet areas, had taken over and were having a party on my tab.

Went online and looked for a natural solution if there was one, found several sites saying spray the mothers, dust 'em, kill kill kill, but one site saying crumple up a handful of bay laurel leaves and sprinkle them on the soil around the plant, the scent of the bay leaves will confuse the ants as to the scent of the impatiens. The idea of confused ants had a strong appeal for me, plus I just happen to have a bay laurel tree beginning to tower again in my garden-- I trimmed it a year ago but it's taking over once more, being vitally evergreen and growing like crazy, a real life force, which is why the Greeks and Romans loved it so much as a symbol of highest achievement, but this one is a bit manic; what's more, it has been functionally idle, and in my garden it's earn your keep or move on, we're all working together here, no resting on your laurels. (Sorry.)

Fact is, I myself use few of my laurels, only now and then in winter soup and occasional other cuisines, and as gifts for the rare Japanese folks who know how to use bay leaves (even rarer than those who know how to use oregano). So I went and got a handful of the fragrant leaves and crumpled them (they crumple well), sprinkled them on the soil around the base of the plant and now the ants are running in confusion over and under the bay leaves, saying in ant: Where'd the flowers go? What happened? What's this sudden weird odor? Is this the end of our little community?

Very appealing. So far, so good...


Chrissy said...

I have a Bay shrub as well. Makes me wonder how it confuses the ants.. Does it give off a scent? or is it the fact they have to climb thru those crumbled leaves? lol

Tabor said...

Round one goes to Robert.

R. Brady said...

Now for round two.