Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Spring?

As I walked the garden today I noticed the first snowdrop. It is said, they are a sure sign of spring. They can be planted en masse.......but for me, a solitary snowdrop is enchanting.
Rabbits have caused so much damage in the garden. For nearly eight years I have struggled. I am tired of the constant battles. The frustration of planting and netting a new addition to the garden, only to find overnight it has disappeared.

They are, without doubt, cute....and Poppi loves them. They are vegetarian....I am a vegetarian. They have such lovely eyes. I am learning acceptance. They are part of the natural world that surrounds the house. I am changing my planting...... We will learn to live together. I have a list of plants that rabbit do not like. I am taking a different path.........
I lost three trees recently due to the rabbits. The snow enabled them to reach above the tree guard and strip the bark . Yesterday a friend appeared at the gate. He is a country boy....he knows much about country ways. He is clearing woodland at the moment. This needs to be done sometimes to bring certain creatures back to the woods. Anyway his wife had told him about the rabbit damage. "I have something for you." he said. He opened the car door and took out a bundle of silver birch saplings (around two metres high). He gave me a hug and with a smile went back to the car and waved goodbye. I was so touched. This man has a big heart and often pops by with his wife.....he never comes empty handed. Vegetables from his garden, kindling for the fire, a birdbox he has made from wood he had lying around. I am blessed with two very good friends........
I planted six of the trees today....so exciting. I love silver birch. There is a poem...I remember the first line 'the silver birch is a dainty lady' So she is........

20 comments:

Liz said...

As terrible as it may sound Cheryl, have you considered hiring a ferret to try catch or at least make the Rabbits think twice about visiting your garden?

It's an old method of keeping the numbers down, as well as helping keep someone in work and no doubt the Rabbit will be used for meat and pelt??

Just an option.

Lovely to see the snowdrop, I'm looking forward to mine too! I planted them in groups of 5/6/7 all around the garden and really hope many of them come up.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Rabbits ate the top off of a tree that my DB planted last fall. He was fit to be tied when he saw the damage. The rabbits don't come into the fenced area much any more. Luna has made believers out of them. Ha... What wonderful friends you have Cheryl. The birches will be beautiful.

Cheryl said...

Hi Liz......the warren is in the copse. Its runs go out to the railway the other side of the fence. I am not exagerating when I say I can sometimes have twenty rabbits in the garden. I truly am not. Nella has caught many.....not something I personally like, but she does keep numbers down well. As soon as Nella comes into the house, out come the rabbits. I cannot let her into the copse because she could so easily get trapped down the warren....and I certainly cannot risk that.
During the snowy weather she did catch four......

I have spoken to people at the local pub who keep ferrets and they have offered their service free of charge.....but I truly feel it would only be temporary. There are way too many rabbits here. We do have a stoat in the area, which of course will take rabbit, and last night I heard a fox....yippee. I hope the local farmers leave it alone....sadly they are often shot in these parts. I hate it.

I do hope your snowdrops show....I do have some small groupings but they have not appeared yet.

Cheryl said...

Hi Lisa....will your tree be okay?? and what was it?

I am looking forward to seeing the trees grow....they are well protected from the rabbits.....

Dan said...

Not sure what to say about the rabbits - but enjoy that little snowdrop!!
best wishes
Dan

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Cheryl. I think you have the right idea. There are a lot of very nice plants that deer and rabbits won't eat. And you can always keep a few special plants and cage them.
Marnie

Racn4acure said...

You have nice friends. It is cold here with more snow moving in for the weekend, so I will take any sign of spring! Art

Amy said...

Cheryl, I feel your pain! Our destruction during the past three years has been vole related. Fortunately they don't relish every plant, just some. There are areas of the garden where we've just given up and, like you, we're trying to co-exist. The only positive thing is that they do cultivate our heavy clay soil. Your rabbits are much cuter than my voles - I photographed a dead one (thank you Jack!) last year and some of my readers were horrified; he was an ugly bugger though with his two long front teeth - it's hard to believe how much soil and even rocks they manage to displace.

Good luck and congrats on your attitude adjustment!

Cheryl said...

Hi Marnie....tku for the re-assurance that I am walking the right route. I just do not see the point in keep struggling with plants, they will eat, at some point.
Yes you are right...I was pleasantly surprised by just how many plants they leave alone......let the project begin.

Cheryl said...

Hi Marnie....tku for the re-assurance that I am walking the right route. I just do not see the point in keep struggling with plants, they will eat, at some point.
Yes you are right...I was pleasantly surprised by just how many plants they leave alone......let the project begin.

Cheryl said...

Hi Amy.....I really struggle with this one. I planted this garden for the wildlife that frequents the local countryside. My main aim was to increase bird, bee, bug and butterfly numbers.
Of course the rabbits destroy a lot of this habitat.
I have nothing against any creature, I am passive by nature and hate cruelty of any kind.
Nella for me was the obvious choice, she does catch the rabbits and when she is out there they do not dare to come into the space.

Good luck with your voles.....all part of gardening.

ShySongbird said...

Hi Cheryl, What a very kind friend he sounds...a true countryman I think.

That pesky Rabbit certainly looks well fed, such a shame it is at the expense of your beautiful garden!

The signs of Spring are there and your lovely Snowdrop illustrates that so well.

Rose said...

What wonderful friends you have, Cheryl! Let's hope the rabbits leave these birches alone. I've been reading all the comments, and while there are some good suggestions here, I can see that you have a larger population of rabbits than most of us. I think your idea of changing plantings to those that are rabbit-resistant is a good idea. Trying to co-exist peacefully with them seems like the best route. Foxes are often shot here, too, by the farmers--such a shame, because I think they're beautiful animals.

Your snowdrop is such a welcome sight!

Cheryl said...

Hi Jan....yes he is an extremely good friend, his wife also. We all help each other out and that is what life is about.....

The rabbits are well fed.....I do not mind them eating the odd plant, to be honest I expect that.....but when shrubs are eaten to the ground and trees ringed it becomes so frustrating......still I am hoping my new plans will prove to be the answer....she said with slight unease......

Cheryl said...

Thank you Rose for your re-assuring comment. It will be a challenge changing the garden but I am looking forward to that. They say a garden is never finished, it appears to be right....
The silver birch trees all have tree guards and I have put chicken wire over the top of the guard, double protection. Marnie gave me this idea when I posted about the rambling roses. I am grateful to bloggers who leave such helpful comments....

I am passionate about foxes ....I suppose for me they are very similar to dogs and you know how I feel about them. I used to have a dog fox come to the gardens when I first moved here. He limped badly, we called him old peg leg. Even with his injury he caught many rabbits....I used to leave food out for him as well. He disappeared overnight.....I will always remember him sitting in the copse, with the sunlight on his beautiful red coat.......

Gigibird said...

You sound like a sensitive soul. I am of a similar disposition and even find throwing old scraggy plants away troublesome.
I have a thrush visiting my garden and I read in the weekend paper that if I found snails and crushed them on the path the thrushes would eat their bodies…..but of course it would mean I had to kill snails and I can’t even do this so I do sympathize with your rabbit dilemma.

Electric fencing?

Q said...

Dear Cheryl,
I am so touched by the people in your life. They seem to come at just the right time with just the perfect gifts.
The snowdrop is divine. A sign of hope. It is still way to cold for Spring to come to my gardens. I am willing to wait until April....I know the heart ache of too early of a Spring.
Snow is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. I will keep the bird feeders full.
Happy planting.
I do understand how working with the rabbits will be easier than having the disappointment of plants eaten....I know this too. Years ago I planted a tea garden and the rabbits ate all my tea plants!
Sherry

Wendy said...

I remember your first snowdrop of last year! Has a whole year gone by? My goodness. And the bunnies. They do look sweet, don't they? But I quite understand your frustration. You don't pay good money and work hard just to have Mr or Mrs Bunny eat it all up!

What a very kind neighbour you have. I was very interested in hearing you say he is clearing the woodland to invite the animals back. Did not know someone needed to do this.

Green Gal said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences. You have some great photos on your blog!

sylvï said...

hello there,

i came across your blog today, looking for snowdrops, and i must say i felt delighted to find such a kindred spirit here.

i was going to suggest hanging something with a human smell eg. hair or clothing on the trees to repel rabbits but perhaps this trick won't work on animals that are so comfortable around people.

maybe you could try something with a ferret scent? i wonder if there would be a pheromone product available. that would be both natural and cruelty-free.

i also remember reading about gardeners who write up (on paper!) a contract with animals, stating the rules of what and how much can be eaten, and they claimed it works. maybe it's just wishful thinking, but surely it can't hurt...

best of luck with finding the right balance!