Quick ques­tions & an­swers

Amateur Gardening - - Ask John Negus -

QI saw this un­usual cater­pil­lar in the sum­mer – what is it, please?

Jerry Gwyn, Lud­low, Shrop­shire

AThis is the cater­pil­lar of an ele­phant hawk moth. When it feels threat­ened it rears up and re­sem­bles an ele­phant’s head. Its eye­spots de­ter preda­tors.

A na­tive of Europe, the cater­pil­lars and adult moths can be found in woody ar­eas, on grassy banks and in gar­dens. They eat fuch­sias and other plants, but not enough to do any real dam­age.

QPlease can you iden­tify this shrub for me?

Mrs Brenda Tun­stall, Hay­wards Heath, West Sus­sex

AThis is prob­a­bly salal or shal­lon (Gaulthe­ria shal­lon), a North Amer­i­can plant that treats us to a dis­play of pink­ish-white flow­ers in late spring and early sum­mer.

It is a splen­did drought re­sister.

QWhat shrub do these scented leaves come from?

Teresa O’Hara, Clac­ton-on-Sea, Es­sex

AIt could well be sweet bay (Lau­rus no­bilis). Frost-hardy and grow­ing to around 40ft (12m), it does best in full sun. It will re­main small if you grow it in a con­tainer.

Its leaves are used for flavour­ing stocks, soups, mari­nades and casseroles.

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