• Alison Murray

Things to do in the garden during lockdown day 71: love the peonies, live with the aphids and ants

It is peony time and I am a big fan. Mine always seem to get blackfly, but it doesn't overtly affect their blooms and the ants farm the aphids so I just let them get on with it.

I am not sure why my peonies are a great venue for mass gatherings of black flies, but they turn up every year. For me gardening is about working with the environment so I don't spray. The more insects we can politely co-habit with the better, as their numbers are sorely in decline. Insecticides are also rarely specific, so what kills aphids will also annihilate a whole range of other insects and get into birds and other predators stomachs, which is not good all round. I just enjoy the peonies and marvel at the callous efficiency at which the ants farm the aphids for their sticky sweet honey dew.

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