Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

All is not lost

Kill not the moth nor butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.  William Blake

I’m hoping pantry moths don’t count.

Before we left Broken Hill I gathered fresh rose petals from the garden, dried them and packed them into a plastic container for safe keeping. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, I simply thought they would be a permanent reminder of the rose garden we had left behind. But here’s the foolish part – I put the container in the pantry.

Christmas came and went, and so did New Year, and I kept wondering where the pantry moths were coming from. They were breeding in alarming numbers. Specks of powdery flight found their way into every open packet of biscuits and every half empty cereal box. I threw the spoiled packets in the bin, decanted all the remaining dry foodstuffs into containers and still they kept coming.

Commercial pantry moth traps caught a few, but not enough, and then I read that camphor deters them. Aha! Finally I knew what to do with the young (and highly invasive) camphor laurel tree growing at the side of the house – chop the topmost branches off and scatter the leaves in the cupboard. Problem solved.


The moths kept coming, multiplying in the face of all my efforts. Even a shop bought stick of camphor failed to deter them; they simply took refuge, somehow, in one of the sealed jars that surrounded the stick.


It was only yesterday that I thought to check the container full of rose petals – or what was left of it.


It turned out the plastic had a small crack in it, which is how the moths must have been getting in and out. The rose petals were decimated – all that remained was a dusting of red granules held together by stringy filaments where the larvae must have wormed their way through the illicit feast.


I threw the container away, disappointed at the loss of my treasured rose petals, and yet again swept the cupboard for moths, finding them in the rice, the sugar and a container of pine nuts.

But then I realised that all is not lost. Camphor laurel cuttings smell good, and they look good too. So instead of scattering camphor laurel leaves in the pantry, I’m cutting stems from the tree and putting them in vases. The invasive evergreen tree at the side of the house, which grows like a weed, can be a regular source of greenery to bring indoors. It will liven up a house that still hasn’t got any pictures on the walls.


As for the rose petals, I’ll just have to wait for the Papa Meilland to recover from the drenching I gave it last week. In the meantime, there’s a single, perfect bloom on the Peace rose to enjoy.


4 comments on “All is not lost

  1. wendylockyer
    January 16, 2014

    Peace was one of the roses that mum loved. Your bloom looks beautiful. You will appreciate it more having lost the Broken Hill petals xx

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. debhuntinbrokenhill
    January 16, 2014

    Oh I had no idea. The Peace rose is Clyde’s favourite, I planted it for him, and now I’ll enjoy it all the more knowing that Mum loved it too. I wish you could be here to see it. By the time you arrive it will be all grown up! xx


  3. nantubre
    January 16, 2014

    Oh so much in common on the other side of the world! Moths – a dirty word. Imagine my surprise and embarrassment when DOZENS of moths suddenly flew in out of nowhere – during a dinner party in my home. Through much searching and using all the tricks of the trade, I finally discovered they were coming from the huge bin of dog food we keep in the pantry for our four dogs. It was the last on the shelf at the store. Full of moth larvae. omg. It was like a cloud descending.

    And I too have a peace rose. It is the most outstanding of all of them. It is too early for anything to bloom here as we are in the midst of a Louisiana winter. Someday I’m going to make it to Austrailia.


  4. debhuntinbrokenhill
    January 16, 2014

    Nan if you do ever come to Australia I hope you will get in touch, I would love to meet you, I’m sure we would have a lot in common. Hope the sun shines soon in Louisiana, I’ve never been to America so if I ever visit one day I will be sure to look you up!


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I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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