I like them, but they trouble me. Just lately, their numbers have shot up, and curiously so has their size. I’m finding bigger snails round the garden than I’ve ever seen before outside of a tropical snail tank.

In a spirit of tidiness, at the start of summer, I collected up all the pots of things that didn’t survive the winter, failed cuttings (my success with taking cuttings so far ranks at zero) and the pots I used last summer to accommodate a selection of random ‘left-over-from-multi-pack’ bedding plants, and put them in a heap at the edge of the patio, with a view to emptying them out and putting them away. A mere two or three months later I got around to the emptying and putting away part of the job, only to find them inhabited, inside, outside, underneath, with a vast army of snails I didn’t know I had. This presents me with a problem, and I came up with a plan…. The snails could be politely encouraged to go… well, somewhere else. They must have come from somewhere else, after all. They didn’t just sprout out of the ground, that size, this summer… I assume? So I carefully removed some of the pots, and shuffled the others around a bit, to give the snails the idea that this was not such a good spot after all.

Did they take the hint? No.

There they still are, just determinedly squeezing their giant snailish selves into a much smaller pile of pots. It’s a good spot. They like it, and it seems harsh to move them on, but I don’t want the pots there. Time to come up with a new plan, I suppose.

I blame this situation on the neighbours, who are clearly the cause of all the trouble. I used to have enough snails to be pleasing, but not enough to cause a housing crisis. Significantly, I used to have hedgehogs. A LOT of hedgehogs. Big ones, little ones, one year a whole family of baby ones. Sometimes if too many arrived at once they would fight and create quite an uproar, and then I’d have to go and shine a torch on them, which made them freeze for a moment before all running off in opposite directions. And they used to leave little trampled hedgehog paths across the lawn on their favourite routes. But no more. One by one, my neighbours decided that what they really needed was a giant fence, solid, jammed into the ground with not a sliver of a gap between the panels, and the hedgehogs, who used to roam over a number of gardens were gradually cut off, until they vanished completely. And now I have so many snails I don’t know where to put them all.