by Charlene Burgi
While in Marin, I took advantage of the annual sale at one of our local nurseries by loading up with plants that I knew would survive Lassen’s cold climate. It didn’t take long to fill the car with various salvias, yarrows, catmint, barberries and geraniums. The prized Cercis ‘Forest Pansy’ was the biggest challenge as I struggled to weave it into the car without breaking branches.
Typically gardens evolve, and this rather new landscape is no exception. The carefully selected plants soon found special places in the front landscaped areas. Yellow seemed to dominate the existing gardens so I chose plants blooming in reds, blues, purples and pinks to add diversity of color. I also chose plants that I assumed would be distasteful to the wild critters that share the surroundings of home.
Did I foolishly say assume? This morning Jack came in to say the rabbits found the new yarrow that we planted. The damage looked as if a miniature lumberjack cut down the blooms and left them to dry! They didn’t even eat them! Upon closer inspection, the leaves of the salvia were also targeted along with the existing flowers of the coreopsis and foliage of the red hot poker.
I found little is off-limits to the wildlife here. While I was in Marin, the squirrels consumed all the peaches on the caged peach tree, and rabbits took out the lilies that were ready to bloom in the backyard. Prairie dogs found the dianthus flowers quite tasty, and the birds devoured the blueberries in planters on the front deck. Actually, it was pretty funny watching a big fat robin filling its beak with as many blueberries as it could carry, then hopping across the deck to the pond below to demolish its spoils.
The joke was on me. I laughed as I remembered telling people that the deer don’t read books that suggest what plants deer shouldn’t eat. My choices were based on just that—assertions that the critters “shouldn’t” eat yarrow or salvia. I guess the rabbits, prairie dogs and squirrels don’t read books either!
Childhood memories of Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny filled my head, Elmer trying to protect his garden from the notorious rabbit. After careful consideration, I decided Elmer’s attempted method of damage control is not an option here. So the question remains—how can we live in harmony with our furry friends? As I ponder this question, I can only consider these choices:
1. Keep experimenting with various plants (which will also help support the local nursery!);
2. observe what neighboring ranchers plant in their gardens; and/or
3. cover everything with netting.
Does anyone have additional thoughts or ideas? I promise to give credits on the yet-to-be-written book entitled A Furry Critter’s Last Choice Diet.