Monday, February 23, 2009

The Greatest Garden Pest

The garden and field seem dormant - at times covered by a blanket, or even a truck load, of snow - during the winter season, and you feel good that at least some of last year's garden pests won't make it till spring.
Almost all my garden experience is from my past urban gardens where aphids and various kinds of viruses made up my "garden enemies", ruining some of the beauty during parts of the gardening season.
I never thought that a cute little cottontail would become my enemy #1, the one that frustrates me the most.

The little Fragrant Snowball Viburnum (Viburnum x carlcephalum) grew by 30-40 cm last summer, nearly doubling it's size and I was very happy as I love this shrub with its fairly long lasting, very fragrant white/pinkish balls in spring and its season long glossy, dark green leaves. This is what it looks like now: All growth from last year, every last shoot and bud that was ready for spring GONE.
The Pink Lady quinces (Chaenomeles x superba 'Pink Lady') were not only chopped down

but the bark at the base got a good chew too. Well, at least they left some "fertilizer" behind!
Unfortunately, even during the rest of the year when there's an abundance of food in the fields and natural areas around our property the rabbits still LOVE my garden. They don't understand that it's mine!! They love munching on the tender new shoots on garden plants in spring and the veggie garden all through the seasons if I don't fence it in.
Maybe I should get a hunting license!


  1. Oh my goodness. They feasted! I'm so sorry. It will come back, right? I'm new to your site and enjoying it very much. I have the Hakuro Nishiki pictured in your sidebar, although mine is a weeping variety that I'll now need to go check. Look forward to seeing your garden bloom.

  2. Hi Gardeness
    Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!
    I surely hope that the plants will be able to come back, I believe so. Funny enough the rabbits haven't been too hard on my willows, the Hakuro Nishiki is not touched at all.
    Just stopped by at your blog - I envy you just a wee bit as it already looks like spring has arrived in your end of the continent.

  3. It seems that no matter where you go there is some pest that frustrates the gardener. For us the deer have become increasing brazen. I tried replanting the orchard that I put in 30 years ago and now it is almost impossible to get past the small tree stage whereas years ago we never even saw deer hereabouts. For us the rabbits are pretty well behaved, eating as you would wish from the pasture and woods. I do remember though that I had to fence in the blueberries to get them above rabbit height.

  4. MacGardens, thank you for commenting.
    Yeah, we love the wild life around the property - wouldn't it be nice if they would eat only what we want them to. Last spring the deer ate ALL new shoots on just one of my willow varieties.

  5. This is so sad Lene. I caged my little trees this year. Rabbits are funny...they have good years and bad years. A couple years ago was a bad year for soon as dusk came it was "March of the Bunnies" when I would look out and see 20 rabbits heading right for my gardens! Ahhhhh!!! That's when I would let the big dog out.
    Get your cages ready for next fall!

  6. Hi Eve
    I already put chicken wire "fences" around my Japanese Maples and spireas as those were the ones they took last winter! I hope that I can keep it up (and adding for other plants too, I see is necessary) until the plants are larger and then I don't think it is such a problem.

  7. It's so hard to keep ahead of those buggars and how determined they are to get a tasty snack!! Yikes!

  8. Salix, the same thing happened to my hydrangea. This is the third year the whole plant has practically disappeared. I have a little cage which I put on but too late. No point closing the barn door after the horse has gone! My burning bush received the same fate, just a few short sticks left.

  9. Frances,
    Aren't they just SO DARN CUTE?
    NOT any more!

  10. Ughhh the little critters can be so maddening. We have some rabbit issues but I have more problems with field mice getting in everything. Little devils! Kim

  11. I hope that the field mice don't become a big problem here. We have quite a few this winter. Late summer, when I harvested our potatoes, quite a few had been chewed at by the voles!

  12. I hope that the field mice don't become a big problem here. We have quite a few this winter. Late summer, when I harvested our potatoes, quite a few had been chewed at by the voles!

  13. When I asked my husband if he liked rabbit stew, was when I got new fences around my gardens.
    Rabbits are cute, but destructive so we have to learn to outwit them.

  14. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, KeeWee!
    Unfortunately because of the size and nature of our property it is not practical/possible to fence it in. For the next few winters though, I may have to put protection up around the smaller plants that they seem to like.

  15. When we bought our house (with a garden of 0.9 acres - not as large as yours, but rather large to Belgian standards) 15 years ago, we started planting lots of native trees and shrubs in the first winter. But more than half of them were eaten by rabits.
    However, in the second year, their was an outbreak of myxomatosis (a deadly rabit disease) here, and most of the rabits died. Since then, I have hardly seen rabits here... (But eventually, they will come back, I'm sure...)

  16. Anne, thanks for commenting.
    I feel rather awful, but I wish for a myxomatosis outbreak!
    Just toured your blog - love it!


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