death of cute critters

bumblebeecabinApril 15, 2010

Hello all....

It is starting to get painful... especially in the spring when I eagerly go out with my cup of coffee... and stroll around the yard looking for bulbs peeking up or flowers unfurling... to find instead a strangely odd looking flower bed which is suddenly devoid of one, two or three of my perennials. It has almost become of game of, "what plant is missing from this picture?"

I KNOW I have voles, but I am confused about what is ALSO eating from the top down instead of from the roots up. My most recent attack was the shoots of a siberian iris, ALL the fiddleheads AND mature fronds of a holly fern, two mounds of impatiens... and all of the tender growth on my foam flower. This is all one day after I came home from work to find my biggest camilla leaning in a peculiar manner... I gently touched her and she flopped to the side in total defeat... her entire rootball had been eaten. A month ago I lost a 5 year old doublefile viburnum and american beauty berry the same way.

I don't use bad words very often, but they seem to come easily when something hurts my beloved plants. I think I have purchased every type of repellent or predator urine or guise .... I think I need a pet puma to stroll around the flower beds.

Any advice? A shoulder to cry on?

This is quite maddening. I have changed stategies... with rocks around roots... and buying deer/rodent resistant things... but I really thought a holly fern or even an iris were not on the list of tasty treats.

Last night I heard an animal screeching from the woods near my house... I have heard horrible shrieking sound once before. Then I heard it running along one of my downed trees with the sound of clicky-clacking toe nails on the tree bark. It was an errie cross between a bellowing cat, screech owl, and the joker from bat man. Armadillo?

Sigh. I suppose I need to get to work. But I needed a friend to talk to this morning.

I pray everyone has a vermin free garden this year.


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My tulips were eaten like that again this year and my problem is squirrels. I have read that putting vaseline all along the stem of the bloom on a bulb flower will deter squirrels. Sounds like what you heard was a raccoon. The critters might be thirsty and that's why they are eating plants and blooms, for the moisture from your watering the garden. Maybe try the vaseline as well as putting out a birdbath with an inch or two of water, the kind that sits on the ground.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 9:26AM
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Thank you bklyn-hydrangea,

Vaseline is definitely worth a try; thank you for the suggestion. I haven't heard of that before. I do have a booming population of chipmunks... as well as squirrels. Those are real possibilities of my attacks.

I recently have been suggested to use moth balls; anybody try that?

The strange thing is, the place I have my foamflower, holly fern, and mounds of impatiens were right next to a low sitting bird bath... And after looking again, they seem to have eaten only the coral colored impatiens, not the purply or pink ones... could be just a coincidence.

Could be a raccoon out in the woods... I definitely have the habitat for them....lots of den trees and fern covered creek beds. I also have been having a lot more armadillo digging out the bark of my decaying trees or digging random holes in my yard, flinging the moss and dirt feet away... big animal type stuff. I thought that my dogs would naturally repel the raccoons...but then again anything is possible.
My yard is a critter paradise, which strangely enough I am proud of my organic ecosystem... but now I seem to have gotten the attention for every critter in the neighborhood! I don't mind a little activity; I would rather sacrifice a few plants and stay organic than the alternative... but I truly am being over taken this spring. Voles underground and other things above ground... they are feasting on everything I have. Fresh bobcat, fox, coyote urine don't seem to be doing a thing.

I don't want to poison them... which may seem contradictory to my title of this posting... but I wish I could work with them somehow. I have been trying to plant things that are resistant to being eaten... but few things are as safely guranteed as my narcissus, alliums, or digitalis.

Thanks for your response, it helps knowing I am not alone ... and willig to try new suggestions if it means saving my plants!

Happy spring,

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 8:23AM
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Armadillos will dig up and eat bulbs, but I've never heard of them eating the other things you mentioned... I don't think they are your problem. The noises you've heard could be a combination of different animals that may or may not be your problem.

Deer or wild hogs would be my guess. And I'd say more likely Deer than the hogs cause you mentioned that you do have them. It is very, very difficult to keep deer out of the gardens.

My father lives on 150 acres all woodland. He has had to go so far as to putting up an electric fence. And from time to time they come right through that.

Do you have motion detected lighting outside? If not, I'd certainly get it to where it lights everything up bright as day. Also, along with those lights, I would get a little IR webcam to stick in the window. I use $10 ones... the lighting from the flood lights is enough with the IR in the cam to tell me what's out there. I also have software to record on movement from the cam... that way I can review it later.

They also have motion detected sprinklers. Can't say how well they work. But I'd imagine pretty darn good.

Just some suggestions... Hope it helps.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 11:33PM
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One thing that is done in vegetable gardening that may have application is to plant something for the bunnies etc. Instead of taking drastic steps to deter or worse, some gardeners plant a little something extra for the critters. Either more of the veggie so we get some too or something they like better than a particular target. That in combination with deterrents of various types. For example the right types of nasturtiums and french marigolds can deter certain fuzzies. The goal being to divert them from what you don't want eaten to something you don't care as much if they eat. The combination says "don't eat that" while pointing at a different and accessible morsel.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 7:39AM
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