Country mouse – Mark Hedges

Slugs and gardeners mix like oil and water. Both seriously compromise each other’s welfare. At night, if you slip outside with a torch, you’ll be astonished and possibly horrified by the army of slugs and snails oozing and munching its way across your garden. However, if a slug likes eating anything, it’s hostas. Many gardeners have tired of trying to grow them due to the relentless attack. Others use a variety of methods, from pellets to beer traps, to try to repel the mollusc horde.

At Highgrove, The Prince of Wales has a National Collection of hostas yet his gardeners use nothing to protect them. There are hundreds of varieties, and, as I walked round last week, not a single plant had the tell-tale hole of a slug attack.

The secret, I learnt, was that the prince has allowed the natural predators to flourish. The whole garden is aflutter with wild birds and the famous stumpery garden plays host to other slug gourmands such as toads and grass snakes. The slugs are totally under natural control.

This beautiful garden has the perfect solution to one of gardening’s greatest problems. However, even Highgrove isn’t quite perfect it’s got ground elder like the rest of us and, as yet, no natural way of controlling it.