Friday, June 21, 2013

The Bad/Not So Bad Post

I woke up this morning to discover bunnies had devoured most of my dalea. By the afternoon those furry little demons had finished the entire patch.


Pre-bunny (Summer 2012)

Dalea purpurea is a prairie native that has taken me several years to learn how to grow.


  Post-bunny


Apparently the leaves are much tastier than the stems.

But then I remembered a wad of unused bird netting stuck in a corner of the garage so I used it and a few plant support stakes to create a bunny fence.


The top of the netting is open so birds aren't trapped.

I noticed those same savages had demolished part of my stand of heliopsis 'Tuscan Sun' and didn't even have the decency to finish off  what they had destroyed.


'Tuscan Sun' heliopsis with 'Roguchi' clematis


But then I remembered another clump of netting I'd seen in the garage so I made another fence.


The bunnies also munched my asters. Asters pinched back? Check!

I noticed my Principe Borghese tomato looked pathetic despite being grown in premium Dr Earth potting soil and enriched with ground alfalfa meal and liquid kelp.


This really irritates and puzzles me. Why is it so small?


I have sweet potatoes growing happily in the same soil. My Principe Borghese looks like such a runt compared to the giant Brandywine's. 

But then I remembered seeing an organic tomato fertilizer at Home Depot called Mater Magic so I bought some and gave it a try. The Yellow Brandywine tomatoes in the back are already enormous!


Mater Magic comes with a free pint of moonshine and a can of possum stew. 

My peppers, which are growing in pots, seem to have been eaten by something with large sharp teeth.



But then I remembered hearing about sightings of radioactive space weasels, my summer nemesis.


Space weasels are easily identified by the ragged remains of vegetable gardens and
 their poor taste in beverages.

The zinnias I grew from seed that were supposed to be soft pastels and look like this - 


are all blooming bright candy apple red and clash with everything.


This part of my container garden was designed in soft pastels to help it blend easily 
with the plants in the back garden.


These are really bright red!

(I pulled off the leaves of my Abraham D'Arby rose to help stop the spread of blackspot so it's looking a bit naked right now.)

But then I remembered my favorite rule about entertaining: 'When drag queens crash your party, just get up and dance.' So I did.


I need a fan and some hideous make up! Hurry!

62 comments:

  1. Hey, I have a friend that loses peaches and figs to the squirrels each year, but this year she has found a product that keeps them away. It's a pepper spray that is harmless to humans, but it tastes terrible to other creatures. Not sure if it is for rabbits, but I'll check. email me at texanagarden@gmail.com and I'll send you a photo of the label. I haven't tried it on my squirrels yet, but I'm so ready. This is the FIRST crop of figs and tomatoes she has ever harvested, so she's thrilled!!!
    Sorry about your dahlias...there might be hope. David/:0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need this product! Last year the squirrels would steal the tomatoes, take one bite, and then throw them on the ground only to go back and repeat the process. I'm going to email you!

      Delete
  2. Tammy, I am disturbed at your obviously bigotry towards cute little bunnies. Why do you assume they did all that damage and not the radioactive space weasels or the drag queens? The latter two are, I think, much more likely suspects. We must discuss this further tomorrow. Or rather you can discuss and I can cough at you because my asthma is inhibiting my ability to speak. Or is it the fault of RADIOACTIVE SPACE WEASELS??!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The bunnies use their cuteness as a shield and deflect all the blame on the weasels, who are often so drunk they cause more damage from stumbling than munching. The bunnies, after their expose by Monty Python, are the true culprits. The queens just make snarky comments and eat all the chips.

      Delete
  3. Are you sure that it might not have been birds that damaged your heliopsis? I've seen birds (particularly gold finches) rip the petals off coneflowers and zinnias. I think they're trying to clear an access path to get at the seeds? Or maybe they're just playing she-loves-me-she-loves-me-not?

    The bunnies have attacked a couple of Malva Zebrina I planted, but the flowers managed to bloom anyway, even one that was eaten down to a nub. Pretty impressive really.

    And I still feel the bunnies are cute. They seem to spend most of their time munching clover in the lawn. Maybe you need more clover? :)

    I did surprise one of them (who then surprised me) when I went out to cut flowers the other day and found one napping between two of my gaura in the late afternoon. He turned tail and hippity-hopped as fast as his little legs would carry him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've had finches destroy my flowers before, too, but the petal munching/stem breaking is from rabbits, unless my finches have mutated. The clover in my lawn goes dormant as it gets hotter and drier but I've already made plans to overseed the lawn with it this fall. I have two herds of bunnies living next door to me and they love my garden. I was advised to try Liquid Fence but it smells so bad I'd rather have the bunnies. :o) They do most of my pruning for me.

      Delete
  4. Oh no! The critters seem to be gathering forces on both coasts - I've had my own bouts with both raccoons and squirrels this week, and I'm gearing up to thwart the birds from taking all my grapes this year. I've found a product that appears to work in putting off the raccoons - it's called Repel All, made by Shot Gun. It comes in a spray and granules (I'm using the latter) and it's non-toxic - it's main ingredients are dried blood (I don't know whose), putrescent egg solids, and garlic. It's also supposed to control bunnies and even armadillos. The product operates on the little darlings' nasal passages and sends them to less smelly pastures. The label doesn't say anything about radioactive space weasels, though - you may need a ray gun for those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just leave out beer for the weasels and wait for them to pass out. But a ray gun would be helpful! Good luck with your racoons. I've never had a racoon in my garden. They are so dang cute! But devious....

      Delete
  5. Oh Tammy, you ARE flawless! Don't forget some body glitter, huge false eyelashes, and rhinestone encrusted cigarette holder! As for the ostensibly cute and cuddly vermin, it may be time to call in a professional! http://youtu.be/OiEUDzIrEQE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whenever we have fun overnight company (which excludes most relatives) my daughter and I love to take them to the Drag Queen Brunch in DC. Very naughty fun!! I could use Elmer Fudd in my garden! :o)

      Delete
  6. Ha ha ! Lovely post ! As my dad used to say, for every problem there is an elegant solution ! Think you solved a lot of problems there !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure how elegant my solutions are but they seem to be working!

      Delete
  7. Well that guy needs to be focused on his beer...not your peppers! Ha! I like your zinnias! And your netting is a smart and clever idea for those bunnies...I have a garden of metal this year because I have wrapped most of my plants to keep the little buggers out! Everything is looking beautiful girl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm less worried about the space weasels than I am about the bunnies, although space weasel parties would be fun to crash! I have more wrapping to do and will soon have a garden that resembles a plant prison. But at least I will win! Mwaaahahaha!!

      Delete
  8. Those wascally wabbits! I think everything is looking pretty good, and even the dancing queens look like they are having a good time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The zinnias are very happy, indeed! Fortunately, unless the bunnies morph into jack rabbits, they're also safe from bunny munching. :o)

      Delete
  9. Next to your chomped dalea appears to be a lovely stand of butterfly weed -- it's funny but the bunnies here ate my butterfly weed -- it looks like your dalea patch! (and they ate some tall drumstick alliums). Same thing, they eat the good stuff and leave stems. Let's hope your bunnies and my bunnies never get together.

    I like your resourcefulness. You got the fixes underway, and coped. But those zinnias crashing the party. . . more than I could deal with so calmly. Candy apple red instead of pastels, eeesh, those drag queens have such nerve.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bunny networking would be a disaster, indeed! Your milkweed must taste better than mine. :o) My zinnias are sassy but that earns them points with me and they get to stay. They are confident in their redness and think their company pales in comparison. But it's like having Carmen Miranda pop up at a party full of debutantes. Funny stuff!

      Delete
  10. You've got some bad rabbits. What you need to do is teach your dogs to hunt – or at least scare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the bunnies are out and about while the dogs are still snoozing. One of my dogs ate a bunny last year so there is hope!

      Delete
  11. Sending the men in white coats round!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please do! I love a man in a white coat! ;o)

      Delete
  12. So much growing and being eaten at your place!
    Scary about the space weasels. Eeek.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're a rowdy lot! But at least they don't leave their empties lying around. :o)

      Delete
  13. Thank goodness we don't have bunnies and weasels to deal with....sorry they're being a nuisance in your garden at present.
    I've made a note of the Drag Queen Brunch in DC for my next trip.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But you have crazy monkeys! It's at a place called Perry's in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. It's a bit naughty, for sure!

      Delete
  14. Dang rabbits! They don't just dig and disturb, like the chipmunks and squirrels. They eat plants out of existence!!! I finally figured that's why I couldn't get my Clematises to survive. Triple fencing and mounds of bark mulch seem to be keeping them away now. But wait ... the chipmunks are destroying my new succulent garden. Did I say chipmunks aren't as bad?! Love the space weasel! He does have terrible taste, though. He needs some Leinenkugels for sure! (Thanks for the garden love. :) I mean: :( But there's still hope! Yippee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the space weasels would eat my weeds instead and suck down microbrews, they'd earn more respect from me. Chipmunks are eating your succulents? How dare such a cute creatures be so rude! They need to eat the dandelions, instead. Maybe the succulents are more filling. ;o)

      Delete
  15. I love the raw truth in your posts! Cause this is exactly what REALLY happens in our gardens, well at least it happens in mine too. I actually covered my ENTIRE garden in chicken wire this spring. That's 35 ft long by 12 ft wide by 8 ft high, yeah, that's a lot of chicken wire. As soon as I can find a way to make it look pretty I'll post some photos. But now, for the first time I can grow strawberries and corn (among other things) and actually be able to eat them :) Thank you for your heartfelt support and comments on my blog, makes the difficult journey endurable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very welcome! Your family is in my daily prayers. :o) Chicken wire will be my next step if they munch through the netting. Either that or barbed wire, which might give me some street cred. I'd have to change the name of my blog to Badass Gardening. :o)

      Delete
  16. Yes, the bunnies are evil. I have been advocating for the adoption of a neighborhood coyote but the neighbors with pets have objected. I have certain grasses that I have come to think of as sacrifices to propitiate the rabbit gods.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess it's karmic payback for all the chocolate bunnies we eat at Easter. I can't believe they also ate your grasses! Maybe I can get them to start eating the lawn. We'd never have to mow!

      Delete
  17. That is some serious damage. Last year I had lots of problems with them out front. They destroyed around 10 newer Heuchera. So far this year they have not been a problem. Hope things work out for you now.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They need to start eating the weeds instead! But of course, they have to much the plants we love the most.

      Delete
  18. I see lots of bunnies around here and now the babies. I have a neighbor that apparently likes to feed them (just to help the population along a little more, LOL!). They can do some serious damage but someone has been doing recon around here. My dog found half a bunny somewhere in the woods and brought it to me. Yuck!~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Half a bunny? Nasty! I wouldn't have been impressed with that gift, either. What the heck is your neighbor feeding them?

      Delete
  19. One thing came to mind:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGhQ2BDt4VE

    ReplyDelete
  20. How nice of you to plant so many plants for the rabbits! Look like they sure appreciate the midnight buffet. I'm interested in learning if the Mater Magic works. My tomatoes look bad this year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They love the buffet I've set out for them! The online reviews I've read about Mater Magic are pretty impressive. I just hope they're not all written by company reps! I grew all my tomatoes from seed and Principe Borghese are supposed to be easy and vigorous. Ha! More like whiny and wimpy!

      Delete
  21. I hate those adorable creatures. They even ate my drumstick allium this year. Now that's a nerve. You are right about Liquid Fence - it stinks to high heaven. But I've found that it works (although you have to reapply). The smell goes away (for us humans, at least) after a day, so if you can just hold your nose for 24 hours, it might be a solution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liquid Fence would probably repel the bunnies but it would torture my neighbors, too. Of course, if I didn't like my neighbors that wouldn't be a problem but they're fabulous. Bunnies need to be much less cute so it would be easier to stay mad at them.

      Delete
  22. I have to net my veg gardens because if left to the wild critters they would and have devoured it. The bunnies seem to stick to eating the clover and tall grass I never seem to get out of the beds...maybe that is why they don't eat too many other plants.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My garden is starting to look like a netting factory! I have a friend whose bunnies only eat the weeds. I need those bunnies instead of mine!

      Delete
  23. My Dalea look super, their second spring. Check out my latest post. Never was much of one for large zinnias or drag queens either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your dalea are incredible! It's taken me a while to figure out what mine liked. Of course, I did that the hard way by first learning what they didn't like!

      Delete
  24. Hi Tammy, love the Drag Queens pic, for some reason, they remind me of a small stand of gladioli that I recently up until recently!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so funny! Gladilous are flashy enough to be the drag queens of any garden! :o) But they're so easy to grow that they can be hard to resist. I grew them when I was learning how to garden and was so thrilled when they actually grew. :o)

      Delete
  25. Oh, so sorry about those pesky bunnies in your garden, well the weasels too! I must admit I have no experience with how to keep them at bay, over here we are more plagued with American grey squirrels and urban huge foxes in our London gardens – they do a lot of damage. Your fence seems a good solution, good luck with it, and as for the zinnias, perhaps the container needs to do a walk-about to a different part of the garden with zingier colours where it will feel more at home this summer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huge foxes? In London? Wow! I see foxes here in Virginia but I've never seen them in my neighborhood. But those fat grey squirrels are everywhere here. Moving the zinnia container is a great idea but the container is pottery and is really heavy so it will have to stay in its spot. Seeing those bright red flowers where I expected soft pink makes me laugh, anyway. :o)

      Delete

  26. Them Dang Rabbits are cute... Only when they are not in our gardens!
    Geeezzz! I had know idea that they ate flowers! Have you tried traps?

    I read on the net that rabbits are creatures of habit and usually follow the same trails thus making them easier to trap. I hope you'll find something that will keep those little monsters away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Traps are a great idea but then I'd have to relocate them all and they might just come back. There is a warren of rabbits living under my neighbors foundation. :( Plus, I'm married to a rabbit sympathizer who thinks I need to share. Ha!

      Delete
  27. Thank you so much for you blog comment..... I adore the quality of your photographs.......mine never turn out so well........do visit us again in our wet part of north wales.........
    Best john

    ReplyDelete
  28. For what it's worth... the Dalea is evolved to survive being gnawed to the ground by buffalo, and to survive being burned to the ground by wildfire. I feel your pain, and shake my fist from afar at your rabbit marauders, but this tough little perennial probably isn't fazed by the attack.

    I'm also not sure what zone you are in, but your tomato *can't* put on a lot of growth until the soil temps stay in the 70s overnight. That poor tropical jungle plant gets sleepy if it has cold feet. If consistently warm soil temps have been a problem in your zone, maybe you don't have so much to worry about? If you're really worried, you could add a lo-nitrogen fish fertilizer boost to your Fabulous Fruit n' Bloom Boom 2000 elixir. You can even do it as a foliar feed. A dribble of nitrogen might help those dweeby little stems to look sturdier... But then, I'm far away and shouldn't try to diagnose your plant trubblz without knowing your specific ecosystem (lol)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a feeling my little Principe Borghese is a heat lover, like the rest of its Mediterranean friends. It's perked up a bit since it's gotten hotter. I douse it with kelp on a regular basis. We've had a weirdly cool spring/summer so that could be the culprit. Little dude is just not feelin' the cool summer love. But because this is VA, it will be hotter than hell any day!

      Delete
  29. I feel your frustration with the bunny damage. I had to put chicken wire around my entire garden for two years to keep rabbits out, until a fox showed up in the neighborhood. That solved the problem.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Oh, those pesky rabbits, what a nuisance. I hope you manage to save the rest of your plants. As for the clashing colours, I know just what you mean, so annoying when plants don't turn out the colours you expect. I had the same thing with my poppies, and although I lived with their lurid colours for a while, they've now been dug up. My vista is once again a beautiful shade of pastels.

    ReplyDelete
  31. That was a fun read....I've noticed many of the same problems~bunnies devouring plants, bugs nibbling leaves, stunted growth...what a gardening year! I like your zinnia and the color clash doesn't both me, but then I embrace the clown pants gardening style.

    ReplyDelete
  32. You made me laugh! I like your zinnias, even though you think they clash. :( Sorry to hear about your dalea. I'd never seen that plant before, it's so unique. No wonder those bunnies got it! Hope you're staying dry with all this rain...

    ReplyDelete
  33. Your zinnias blooming in the wrong color caught my attention because mine did too! I have all 1 - 1 1/2' tall pink zinnias, when they were supposed to be 6" tall plants in shades of red, orange and yellow! They never seem to be exactly what they're supposed to be. Frustrating!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting my blog! Feel free to comment on the posts or photos.