Garden Adversity

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Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Do you know what is likely to have eaten them? My only patch of Crocus malyi has been decimated by rabbits over the past three or four years, and only now that the garden is fenced properly is it growing away again. But hybrids of this lovely species would be really exciting - I can understand the intense frustration.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Interesting, that you had the same species decimated by rabbits.  There are a few things I noticed:

1. In the past, squirrels have shown a penchant for nibbling Crocus blooms, but they don't typically eat the whole flower, just nibbles. Often they simply snip off flowers at the base of the stems; there were a few severed blooms on C. angustifolius lying like fallen soldiers today.

2.  Squirrels invariably leave some little divots from their infuriating digging, I saw no such holes today.

3.  Many other crocus buds were in the same ready-to-bloom state; the fact they weren't touched, and based on your own experience with varmints devouring C. malyi, this Crocus species seems particularly attractive to whatever varmint is eating the blooms.  This is the first time ever that C. malyi has been eaten, and I've grown some patches outside in the garden for a decade.

4.  I'm inclined to believe it is a rabbit, or a groundhog.  In the past several years, there is a single (or maybe two) rabbits that I see regularly, they mostly wiped out Viola pedata and a couple other viola species, decimated Vernonia lettermanii last year (several times).  Then for the past 4-5 years, I've been battling a family of groundhogs (we call them woodchucks here), that all but decimated any Aster species, and a favorite native plant Porteranthus trifoliatus (syn: Gillenia trifoliata).  They have burroughed under one of my garden sheds, making it extremely difficult to get rid of, and making the shed smell strongly of animal urine.  Last year I finally had them leave by dusting the shed perimeter with pepper (many animal repellents are pepper-based), although I was never able to discourage the rabbit.  I only have Hav-a-Hart traps sizes for chipmuncks and squirrels, may need to get a larger one for rabbits and groundhogs.

5.  Today I dusted my crocus with black and red cayenne pepper as a deterrent, I hope that works (has no effect on squirrels, hopefully does deter rabbits and/or groundhogs).

I posted this to facebook as well, someone suggested that I should be looking for an animal pooping little red arrows ;D

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

externmed
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-03-01

Good luck,Mark.
Woodchucks are difficult to trap (and rabbits probably more so) and effective traps are outlawed.  My variety of woodchuck will go for Campanula x Elizabeth for "bait" in a have-a-heart type trap.  I have also, over the years, caught 2 woodchucks and one rabbit that just couldn't resist going into empty traps.  Last year house finches or some other bird developed a taste for crocus anthers and wrecked the lot.  Will deploy a mist net if that happens again. Nature's natural gardens are quite astonishing, considering how much predation there is out there.  I'm developing a great fondness for Aconitum, Colchicum, and Melanthiaceae.  Slugs seem to be immune, though.
Charles Swanson
Massachusetts USA Z6a

NE Massachusetts (New England) USA  zone 6 (5B to 6B)

gardens visited, photographs:  www.flickr.com/photos/wildmeadow

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Errr, a mist net?  That's a very fine net in which birds feet and claws get tangled, normally used for banding (for that obvious reason).  It would take constant observation to ensure that birds aren't being caught and possibly dying from apoplexy, injuries, lack of food and water, etc..  Perhaps a normal, coarse net or a chickenwire/hardware cloth cover would serve the same purpose without risking fatality to predating and non-predating songbirds?  Just a thought...

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Next year I plan on using lightweight "hardware fabric" or rectangular wire mesh, which is easily cut and bent to form heightened wire covers for plants.  I could make these in sections, then re-use them in subsequent years..  The 1/4" screening is not exorbitantly expensive, and has become a regular defense in my "gardening toolkit" in the last two years to prevent infuriating squirrel and chipmunk digging into seed pots left to the weather outdoors.

Charles, I'm encouraged by your successful attempts to humanely trap at least a couple rabbits and woodchucks over the years, I might buy a larger have-a-hart trap and give it a try.  With chipmunks, they are easily trapped, often minutes after setting the traps; I once caught 12 in one day, put them in a large barrel with leaves, kept in shade during the day, then released to a new lovely woodsy spot miles away.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I've use a cut apple slice as bate for rabbits in a live trap sized for raccoons.

  Incidentally, raccoons love marshmallows.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

McDonough wrote:

Then for the past 4-5 years, I've been battling a family of hedgehogs (we call them woodchucks here............. They have burroughed under one of my garden sheds, making it extremely difficult to get rid of, and making the shed smell strongly of animal urine.  Last year I finally had them leave by dusting the shed perimeter with pepper (many animal repellents are pepper-based), although I was never able to discourage the rabbit. 

Hedgehogs, Mark, in the USA?  I thought those spiny little critters were absent from the Americas? They don't eat plants here - they are  helpful devourers of slugs and snails.
I think of Woodchuck  as being  another  name for a Groundhog - that  burrowing rodent , Marmota monax ?
:-\

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

IMYoung wrote:

McDonough wrote:

Then for the past 4-5 years, I've been battling a family of hedgehogs (we call them woodchucks here............. They have burroughed under one of my garden sheds, making it extremely difficult to get rid of, and making the shed smell strongly of animal urine.  Last year I finally had them leave by dusting the shed perimeter with pepper (many animal repellents are pepper-based), although I was never able to discourage the rabbit.

Hedgehogs, Mark, in the USA?  I thought those spiny little critters were absent from the Americas? They don't eat plants here - they are  helpful devourers of slugs and snails.
I think of Woodchuck  as being  another  name for a Groundhog - that  burrowing rodent , Marmota monax ?
:-\

Yes Maggi, no hedgehogs in the USA (and I do know what these creatures look like, cute lil buggers); I did say groundhog 3 other times in the same post, but somehow introduced a mental slip and said "hedgehog" once.  Thanks for the correction and keeping me on my toes, I might not have caught the blunder otherwise. By the way, do they still play croquet with hedgehogs and flamingos in the UK these days?  ;) ;D

As fans of the many versions of Alice in Wonderland, when my wife and I and our two daughters would play croquet, the girls would imagine the croquet balls were indeed hedgehogs.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

Thanks Mark, I thought it might just be a slip but I wondered if there was some new beastie out there that I didn't know about. ;D

I believe the habit of playing croquet with hedgehogs and flamingoes has died out everywhere now :rolleyes:

Not as many hedgehogs round the place here last year as there usually are - hope this year will see greater numbers again.

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

The pictures show deer damage to my dwarf daphne collection.  Usually I cover a very large part of the garden in the fall with chicken wire.  Bambi won't walk on it and the plants do well in their "stalag".  Last fall I never got to it and my daphnes really suffered as a result.  They were severely chopped, stepped on etc.  Someone on the talk circuit has been saying that deer do not touch daphnes - they must be living in an alternate universe.  Here Bambi thinks it's caviar.  The last one, Daphne x hendersonii 'rosebud' had been doing so well and was so tight and floriferous - not much left of it and I don't think it will come back.

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