I have some weightier things on my mind that I may want to address another time when my thoughts are a bit more organized…but for now, I’d like to discuss something that makes me feel old and cranky: RABBITS.
Building a home on the edge of a conservancy, our landscape architect chose our shrubs and perennials deliberately—the builders and landscapers all witnessed the deer nonchalantly trespassing across the lawn after all. The one plant that isn’t critter resistant is a plant that has survived unscathed for two seasons. The assumption must have been that since it was so close to the house and behind some shrubs, the deer wouldn’t care to get that close (and the DEER haven’t).
It’s our clematis. Our lovely climbing purple flower that we built a trellis for and that grew so lush last year. The trellis is large, so we bought more plants this spring to make it pop. They were doing so, so well after I planted them.
One day, I noticed that one of the plants looked brownish and wilted. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the vine had been severed at about an inch above the dirt. I wasn’t sure what caused it…I assumed it was innocent though and another green shoot was already visible. A couple weeks after that, I noticed that ALL the vines on the trellis were dying…all severed in the same fashion.
Either there was a passive-aggressive monster in the neighborhood or something more sinister. (Spoiler: it was the second.)
Around that time, Nick took a Live Photo of some “cute” neighborhood residents.
Everything just CLICKED. (I realize I’m using a lot of random capitalization in this post, but I’m SO STEAMED!) I also have two flower beds for annuals, and I thought the petunias I planted in one of them were slow to get going. NOPE. They were just chewed down to the ground.
Suddenly I became the crotchety woman who can’t stand dem der varmints! At a loss what to do, I tried liquid fence products, homemade repellent recipes, and ultrasonic devices. I had a few small sunflower bird feeders that I used as cages over the stumps of the clematis that remained. The little jerks dug out the roots on the two plants on either end of the trellis and feasted on all that remained of the plant. For whatever reason, they did not dig out the root on the center plant.
I was venting about these happenings in the car on the way home from work when Nick told me something like, “I think you’re missing the bright side of all this.” To my confused silence he continued, “We’re raising a family of well-fed bunnies!” Believe it or not, he’s still breathing.
Because the center plant had such a little-engine-that-could-ness about it, it was starting to shoot out of the makeshift cage. I knew I had to remove the cage soon or I wouldn’t be able to untangle the shoots without damaging the plant.
Out of options (because I refuse to border my house with decoy owls as the interwebs suggested), Nick and I set out to buy some materials to fence off the base of the trellis. I remember stomping through Home Depot with him, steam practically coming out of my ears on a day with a heat index in triple digits. He asked cautiously, “Do you know what you’re looking to buy here?”
“Yup,” I clipped out. “I’m gonna build a wall, and I’m gonna make the bunnies pay for it.” I can’t be sure, but I think he may have rolled his eyes…but man I was FRUSTRATED!
We arrived home…hottest day of the year, so hottest evening of the year, and we began to dig a trench to bury chicken wire around the trellis. As reinforcements, we surrounded the fence with rocks to make digging even less attractive to our family of well-fed bunnies.
The surviving clematis is growing steadily, but so small for this time of year. I peek at her regularly to offer words of encouragement…clearly she is the chosen one.
One last thing…when I stepped near to take that last photograph, an itty bitty bunny scampered away from under the shrubs. I was torn. I wanted to be so angry that they had not vacated yet…but holy moly, they ARE pretty adorable.
Cuteness will get you off every time, it’s true. *sigh*