Rabbit Defences 001 Wm

 

Rosa ‘Desdemona’

 

There’s been a population explosion chez rusty duck. Fluffy grey things with white bob tails breeding like.. well, rabbits.

Alarm bells started to ring when my latest David Austin acquisition, Rosa ‘Desdemona’, had her bottom nibbled. The soft part of every leaf up to eight inches off the ground has gone, leaving only the midribs. I smelt a rat mouse but, no, this time they could not be held accountable. For that very same day I breezed past Desdemona’s corner hauling yet another trug full of weeds to the compost heap when what did I see? A baby rabbit scurrying off into the shrubbery. Immediate reinforcements were called for. Mr Fixit, a hammer, some bean poles and chicken wire.

And was that the end of it? Of course not. A couple of hours later and Baby Flopsy was on the run again. This time with a mouthful of Rosa ‘Hot Chocolate’. I suppose I can’t question her taste. Who doesn’t like chocolate? There’s a notable Swiss breed of bunny even made of chocolate. (Oh, the ears. Isn’t it wonderful when it’s your turn for the ears?)

I digress. Over the last few days there have been bunnies springing up everywhere. Grazing happily on Mike’s newly seeded lawn. In the vegetable garden. RIP Pea ‘Misty’. Three out of four of my melons have gone. Chewed down to the stalks. INSIDE THE GREENHOUSE!! The fourth plant may survive but for the moment it has lost all its blooms. Only last night I was sitting at my desk watching a rabbit feasting on the campanula that had turned the terrace wall into a haze of purple. That’ll be the top half of the wall now then. It’s enough to drive you to drink. And it did.

 
 

Rabbit damage 001 Wm

 
 

And then this morning. Ah yes. This morning. The batteries on the squirrel twirler have been run down (again) and Mr Nutkins is taking full advantage. Woodrow Woodpecker, denied access to his breakfast, sat chirping impatiently in the nearest tree. There was nothing else for it but to deploy the old fashioned method of hot pursuit. As I exited the kitchen door the squirrel leapt from the bird feeder and set off up the path. I increased my pace. So did the squirrel. Not that I’d stand the remotest chance of catching it but he’s not getting away that easily. At the end of the path the squirrel flushed out a rabbit. The rabbit scampered off up the hill with the squirrel inches behind and me puffing along a few feet behind it. It could be straight out of a comedy sketch. If I felt like laughing.

 
 

Rabbit Defences 002 Wm

 

Vegetable garden Fort Knox

 

The bunnies have been keeping me under surveillance and know exactly where I’ve been working. Over the weekend we divided, with considerable effort and to the detriment of a garden fork, a huge clump of Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’. One of my favourite grasses. I replanted five large portions up on the bank. It’s a bit late to do it. OK, it’s very late to do it and something of a risk. But I didn’t have anywhere to put them until now. True, they had taken on a somewhat crispy appearance even after copious amounts of water but they might have picked up. Will they now though, grazed to a couple of inches off the ground?

I may recount these tales lightheartedly, as is my way, but it is becoming a serious problem. If it’s not one thing it’s another, eh? Rabbits, deer, squirrels, mice, slugs. Some days, and this is one, I just want to concrete the whole patch over. Or turn it all back to grass.

 

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An update on the garlic wash for slugs.

Mixed results so far. It does seem to be making a difference on some plants, irises for example, yet others appear as irresistible as ever marinated A La Française. Agastache and Rudbeckia have succumbed. In the veggie garden the plants aren’t doing too badly, touch wood. Mangetout peas and even lettuces are still unmolested, the normal peas having been nibbled by the rabbits, as above. We’ve had little rain but after a brief passing shower I sprayed again. What is clear is that the garlic concoction has to be fresh. The second time around using some left over solution the aroma was a lot less pungent to me and clearly the slugs agreed. It casts doubt on the efficacy of freezing the surplus, as Bonnie correctly surmised in her comment on the original post. I shall try a couple of the ‘ice’ cubes as an experiment, possibly at double the recommended strength.