Sunday, February 7, 2010

An Ounce of Prevention

Ben Franklin, who helped found Philadelphia's first firefighting organization, the Union Fire Company (a/k/a Ben Franklin's Bucket Brigade,) coined the famous saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound a cure."

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

Last spring a young witch hazel was added to our garden. Sometime during a spring garden supply shopping foray, a roll of marked-down garden fencing ended up in the cart. No immediate use was planned for it, but the price was right.

After returning from a trip to Mom's last September, I remembered the bargain fencing. A small piece was easily cut using a wire cutter, and a small round fence was made to protect the last of my favorite coneflowers left standing. Another was made for young Jelena, as seen above.

Early this spring I'll be watching for signs of life from victims of last fall's carnage. If any, or all of those cute little rooted hydrangea cuttings survived, they'll get their own little temporary fences, at least until they're large enough to fend for themselves. My makeshift homemade fences might not be pretty, but so far they're working.


  1. We have to protect them from those critters, however we can, pretty or not! I hope it works and soon we'll see them blooming. gail

  2. Homemade fences are homely and serve the purpose well... ~bangchik

  3. Whatever it takes! And it's not bad looking, actually;-)

  4. A fence is better looking than a chewed up plant!

  5. Amen Gail! So far it's working. I'm watching the little witch hazel for blooms.

    It's definitely homely Bangchik. I'm glad it's serving the purpose.

    Thanks Jan! I may get another roll of this stuff - I'm determined to foil the rodents!

    Very true Rose. I'm tired of having the garden chewed up (and dug up!)

  6. Hi! I came by this post through reading lots of blog posts too. :) You have really nice photos. I'm sorry about your victim plants of those rodents. Those are nasty kills. I hope to read your next posts about their developments. It's good to protect them because they're vulnerable from all harm. I'm not an expert but, maybe you also to try container gardening? Just dropping by. :)

  7. Sometimes practical isn't as pretty as we would normally choose. I'm glad you had something on hand for protection. I had to put some fairly ugly fencing around my veggies a few months ago to keep the armadillos out. We do what we have to do.

  8. I don't want to rain on your parade, but if a groundhog can get through that size fencing (and, oh, I know it can), I think a rabbit's snout can fit too. I'd get some hardware cloth, too. (I'm grateful groundhogs don't seem to like woodies, only foliage, I guess...)

  9. Hi Geefe, thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed the photos, and thanks for the empathy! I have lots of container plants too, along with a large shade garden (too big to fill with containers,) and a small raised veggie bed. Oddly enough, so far the critters have left the vegetables alone.

    Meems, living in harmony with the critters seems to get more and more challenging as both their, and their predators' habitats continue to be destroyed by development. The lack of construction the last couple of years due to the bad economy has a bright side for wildlife.

    Monica, so far (since September,) it's working. A rabbit would have to fit it's whole body in there to reach the witch hazel - 2-d photography doesn't give an accurate depiction of the space between the wire and the shrub. A baby rabbit probably could get in, but I don't think an adult could get it's shoulders through.

    Squirrels could also get in to my wire basket guards to dig up plants, but they haven't yet, and I've been using them for a few years now. I'd need hundreds to protect all the plants, so I mostly just use them on newly-planted stuff until their roots knit into the surrounding soil.

    They do sometimes stick their feet past the wires and do a little half-hearted digging but they can't get to the roots or the plants unless they get in all the way. My theory is they don't like to get in because they're scared of being stuck/trapped in there. Only more time will tell if my homemade fences will continue to work. So far, so good though. It's been five months with nary a nibble.

    We've had snow cover since December, except for less than a week after a January thaw, so their food supply is pretty limited. It seems like a pretty good test period. All the dried scapes and flowers, and most of the leaves have been eaten from the (unprotected) heucheras, seed heads from rudbeckias are long gone, liriope foliage - eaten, an unprotected oak leaf hydrangea - chewed, but nothing that's guarded has been touched.

  10. Those cheap little fences are a life savor. So many uses. Let us hear how your hydrangea cuttings came out. That is something I want to do also.

  11. Anonymous8:54 PM

    I like this tip. Very clever and useful.

    Good luck with the cuttings too. I've been meaning to make some of a really nice green hydrangea in my neighborhood, I just haven't caught the owner outdoors to ask for permission first. As much as I am starting to dislike living where I do I'm glad I don't have so much wildlife to worry about.

  12. Hi Marnie, I may need to get another roll or two. . . maybe I need to fence the entire garden! Hydrangeas are pretty easy to start from cuttings - mine were doing great until the rabbits ate them. Hopefully they'll come back from the roots in the spring - I'll definitely do an update. Whether they come back, or whether I have to start from scratch, they'll be protected until they're more substantial.

    Thanks MBT. I hope your neighbor shares some cuttings. I'm thinking seeing coyotes in the neighborhood in the last couple of years isn't a bad thing after all. (I may have to rethink the idea of getting a Maltese puppy though. A friend of mine's Maltese was eaten by a coyote ):O

  13. A "Saying" which is used around here often! A Bargain find is so worth the price even if you dont know what you will do with it when making the purchase, lol. We'll be looking for those blooms...

  14. Hi,
    Does the witch hazel have contorted branches?
    I think that you do what you have to do to protect your babies. If you put barriers up maybe it will discourage them and they will move on.

  15. It's used often here too Skeeter, and 'A stitch in time saves nine.'

    I'm watching the witch hazel for blooms, as the buds continue to swell. (Today it would require trudging through about eight inches of snow!)

    Hi Balisha, no contorted branches on Jelena. I've been tempted by Corylus avellana 'Contorta' (a/k/a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick,) with contorted branches - such a cool-looking shrub!

    Witch hazels are pretty neat for more than reason, and especially since they bloom (depending on variety,) in late fall and during the winter when there's not much color. Their flowers are unique, pretty,fragrant, long-lasting, and most have pretty nice fall color as well. The native witch hazel blooms in the fall. I appreciate also, that they are well-adapted to less sunny locations.

    I hope my barriers discourage the critters, and I wouldn't mind at all if some of the squirrels and rabbits around here would move on. In the meantime I keep thinking of more and more stuff here that would benefit from it's own little fence. It's tempting to surround the whole garden. My mom has an electric fence that's very effective in keeping the wildlife out of her veggie garden - that's tempting too!

  16. A smart idea, Linda. I'd much rather see some green fencing in my garden than the remnants of a favorite plant chewed to the ground. I've been admiring witch hazels for some time now--I'd definitely go to great lengths to protect Miss Jelena!

  17. Me too Rose! I'm tired of seeing plants chewed to the ground and blooms nipped off in their prime.

    Hopefully Miss Jelena is safe and will soon show us her pretty blooms.

  18. Anonymous2:46 PM

    This is an excellent once of prevention, Linda. Jelena is a beauty and so small, she could be a tender morsel for some evil critter. That sort of fencing is used at the Biltmore in Asheville for the young trees and shrubs too, just to get them going. Smart thinking! :-)

  19. Thank you Frances! I was determined to protect Jelena. She is tiny. She fit my budget, and small shrubs are so much easier to plant here with all the roots we contend with. She has a much better chance of survival inside her fortress!

    Wow - I'm impressed they use the same kind of fencing at the Biltmore! Our little Jelena surely is in good company!


Thank you for stopping by! Comments are welcomed, and while I may not always respond here, I'm happy to pay you a visit.

While comments are invited, links to commercial websites are not, and comments containing them will be deleted.

(Note to spammers: Don't bother. Your comments are promptly deleted. Hiding in older posts won't help - they're moderated.)