Thursday, October 22, 2009

While the Gardener Was Away. . .

The rodents did play.

They took advantage of my trip to Mom's, chowing down on about a third of the plants in the shade garden.

Casualties included phlox, coneflowers, asters, bellflowers, heucheras, monardas, an ornamental grape vine, hostas, baby hydrangeas started from cuttings, and more. The grape vine (photo above,) was looking so pretty with it's bright burgundy foliage. Asters, including a couple of blogalong passalongs gifted me by Gail earlier in the season, were in full, glorious bloom. . . were. . . now they're stubs. Golden ragwort, PPPP, and a penstemon (possibly Penstemon X?) Gail sent, though not in bloom, weren't touched.

They ate my favorite coneflowers too. These coneflowers, in bloom since late June, held their blooms a long time. Seeds still haven't matured. There's only one lonely bloom left to save seeds from. Even if time is running out for seeds to mature, they're not getting that one, nope, not if I can help it.

Behind the coneflower, evidence of the carnage is visible .

I'm thankful they didn't dig anything up. Squirrels have a habit of doing that around here, especially small transplants. There are quite a few small seedlings and divisions planted before the trip. They were, surprisingly, untouched.

If it had to happen, I'm glad they waited until nearly the end of the season. Maybe I should thank them for the time I won't be spending cleaning up the garden next spring. Surprisingly, (knock on wood,) they didn't touch the veggie garden all season, not even while I was gone, not even a nibble. I'm glad for that.

Still, I find myself fantasizing about rabbit stew and barbecued squirrel.


  1. As if the weather and the rain wasn't enough to worry about. I've never had rabbit stew, but it sounds good;)

  2. Linda, you have a much better outlook than I--I think I would have cried when I got home and saw this. The only real damage I've noticed from critters this year has been to my sedum, which apparently is being chewed away by voles. Somehow "vole stew" doesn't sound very appetizing:)

  3. Hi Linda,
    As the old saying goes..."While the cat's away" I have a tasty recipe for squirrel, rabbit stew :)


  4. Rabbit and squirrel stew indeed-just revenge for sure. I'm with you.

  5. Ouch! I agree, you seem to have a great attitude about the damage. But in the event.... I might be able to send along a recipe for a tasty wabbitt stew ;~D

  6. Wow, that stinks. I'm usually jealous of the wildlife in other peoples' garden, but I guess I have it better than I think.

    On the bright side; the damage was done so late in the season that maybe they'll be ok in the spring?

  7. Marnie, we were lucky to have three nice days this week - Monday and Wednesday were warm and sunny, and Tuesday was warm, though cloudy. Those were the first nice days we've had in about a month, so I made sure to enjoy them outside. Today we're back to more November-like weather - windy, damp, chilly, and rainy - perfect weather for rabbit stew! ;)

    Rose, believe me, I felt like crying! But since that wouldn't fix anything, I just tried to have a sense of humor and fantasize about revenge! I don't remember ever having so much rampant rodent destruction all at one time here or in any other garden before.

    I agree . . . vole stew. . . doesn't sound appealing! Sorry about your sedums.

    Balisha, I've always thought swearing and throwing mulch at the varmints in the garden when I catch them was an exercise in futility, but maybe it actually does discourage them!

    I have a friend with a BB gun. . . I'll start chopping the carrots!

    Tina, I've never actually tried rodent stew. . . but I hear it's good! After what they did to the garden while I was gone, revenge just might taste sweet!

    Alice, It's awfully tempting, especially I could get someone to do all the dirty work that would have to come before the cooking!

    MBT, you are welcome anytime to help yourself to any and all of the suburban wildlife here! I wish that coyote would come back here and do some hunting. A few weeks ago I heard a pack of them sounding pretty close late at night. I haven't seen any reduction in the rodent population though. If anything there seem to be more of them. It appears a fresh batch of babies have emerged from the squirrels' nests in the past couple of weeks. You're lucky not to have varmints chewing down your garden!

    I think most, if not all the plants will recover in the spring. My fingers are crossed, expecially for the hydrangeas. Today I noticed some new basal growth on the asters - yay!

  8. Ugh how devastating. Hope everything returns ok.

  9. Oh no! Oh no!

    At least it wasn't rats though. Rats are what I think of as soon as the word 'rodent' is mentioned. Rats and mice.

    Blogs are wonderful for getting things out of one's system. Sometimes one can even persuade oneself things are funny when, at first, we haven't experienced that way.

    I've never eaten squirrel but I used to eat a lot of rabbit stew - and I'd heartily recommend it. Put in lots of vegetables. I stopped when I became a vegetarian - and by the time I'd stopped being a vegetarian the shops had stopped stocking rabbit. (If a shotgun is used, watch out for stray bits of shot. It's not much fun for your teeth if you take a hard bite on it.)


  10. Me too Katie. I'm pretty sure most of it will come back next season. The hydrangeas are the things I'm most concerned about. I babied the poor little things all summer. Hopefully their roots are strong enough to withstand the abuse. If they do come back, I'll cage them until they get more substantial in size!

    Lucy, Oh no, oh no, (with a few expletives) is exactly what I said. Blogging about it has been cathartic, and helped me find some humor in the carnage.

    I've never eaten either squirrel or rabbit, and am not sure I ever really would do any backyard hunting. I'd be too squeamish with the skinning and gutting. Maybe I'll act out my revenge by finding a restaurant that has rabbit on the menu! I've heard rabbit stew is very tasty.

    I can just imagine what might happen in this quiet neighborhood with the sound of a shotgun going off in our backyard. I might have to get a silencer for the shotgun. ;)

  11. Youre right, at least it was at the end of the season. Devils! AFter you make that rabbit/squirrel stew, take their heads and put them on sticks in the garden as a warning to the rest of them!! >:-}

  12. I am so sorry for you! You have a great outlook on it, but what an atrocity! I would have cried!

  13. Debbie, that's an excellent idea - might be fun for Halloween too!

    Thanks Rose. Yep, definitely an atrocity. If this had happened earlier in the season, I might have cried. The hydrangeas are the saddest of all - if they don't come back next year I might cry, especially after all the TLC I gave them. I'm more confident about the perennials coming back.

  14. The squirrels in my garden aren't the problem - the foxes and pigeons are .... and my cat is useless at catching them!
    Don't worry - it takes more than a squirrel nibble to see off a hydrangea. They'll pop up again next year.
    Thanks for a nice blog :)

  15. Perhaps this will make you feel better. We thought squirrels had been eating our winter squash. I had a whole collection of recipes running through my head--rabbit tagine, squirrel fritata. And then we discovered that it wasn't squirrels but rats---eeeewwww!

  16. Hi Nutty Gnome, foxes and pigeons, oh my!

    Our 90-lb. lab mix George is useless at catching rabbits and squirrels, but does a good job chasing them out of the yard. I suspect his absence from the yard for the week I was gone was another reason for the destruction.

    I do hope you're right about the hydrangeas! I'll be looking for them in the spring.

    EEEEWWWW! Rats! I'm sorry Curmudgeon. I'm grateful we don't have rats around here.

  17. Oh Linda! You're taking this much better than I would have! I do hope you haven't lost anything permanently. Let's hope for a mild winter and a strong spring.

  18. Yes, good thing it's the end of the season! I too need a BB gun...for the 'bigger' rodents that destroy my garden on a regular basis!
    Btw, Linda, can you email me about the next Spring Fling...exact date and such? Trying to plan my work schedule ahead...thanks!

  19. Thanks Kylee! I hope it all comes back next year. I hear the weather service is predicting a milder winter than the last couple of years due to El Nino - I hope they're right.

    Hi Lynn, it did occur to me it was possible there was a deer in the garden, but I didn't see any big footprints. I've never seen deer in the neighborhood, but in winter we have very occasionally seen their footprints in the snow. Now venison I've eaten, and it's pretty good!

    I don't have any info about next Spring Fling, but I'll see what I can find out for you.

  20. BBQ squirrel. I wouldn't blame you.

  21. How disappointing! They are very bad rodents...are there any good ones? I am about to declare chipmunk wars! They have dug huge tunnels in my beds and unearthed several coneflowers. gail

  22. Ooh, this reminds me of all the trouble and disagreements I had with the groundhog!! I'm sure the root bases are OK and things will grow again next year. You just have to keep a broom ready and hone your crazy lady persona! ;-)

  23. Good morning Victoria, oh those critters vex me!

    Gail, they are bad and should be punished!

    Oh dear, I hope your coneflowers survive their excavation. Wildlife in the garden sure does have its downside.

    Monica, disagreements with rodents are mighty difficult to win. I hope the groundhog didn't do too much damage.

    Next year my mantra will be Liquid Fence, Early and Often! (with a broom nearby for added reinforcement. ;) Our neighbors must think I'm nuts already, swearing and throwing things at the little devils.


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