We have a big oleander plant, which I hate.
See, oleander leaves are poisonous. And not just a little, either. They're, like, eat one and die kind of poisonous. And I can just see a small child (of which we have no shortage around here) picking up a leaf and nibbling on it.
But this plant is precious to Claudia: she's had it for around twenty years. It was a tiny little thing when she got it. Now it's huge, and sits outside on the back porch. We've warned the boys about it, and I make a point of collecting the fallen leaves and dumping them in the compost pile (composting will break down the toxins -- I checked), but it still makes me twitchy.
Anyway. Sitting on the back porch today, I noticed a small motion on the ground near the oleander. It has been in bloom recently, with lots of trumpet-shaped white blossoms. Well, some of the blossoms had fallen on the ground... and a couple of snails were eating them.
I bent over slowly and watched. We have two sorts of snails in our garden, the big plain ones and the little stripey ones. These were the big guys, shells about two inches across and bodies double that when extended. Long as your middle finger, say. They come out more when it's cool and damp; it was a cool damp morning. They were methodically munching up the flowers. One had the narrow stalk of the trumpet stuck down its throat, so that the whole blossom slowly turned and vibrated with its chewing. It looked like a cow working on a cornstalk.
The internet is unclear on whether the blossoms are as toxic as the leaves -- one page says yes, another no. If they are, I guess the toxins don't bother molluscs. The snails don't seem to go up the plant after the flowers -- maybe because it's mechanically difficult, with light, close-packed stems? Or maybe there's something that keeps them off? But now that I'm paying attention, I see that the fallen blossoms disappear quickly -- the plant is producing plenty, but there aren't any on the ground around it.
High point of my morning. Go figure.