Tag Archive | rabbit

Plants in cages

The problem with sharing your garden with a host of wildlife is that quite a lot of it is intent on eating all my plants!




Rabbits seem to like to have a nibble at anything new, and if they like it, they will eat the lot. But plants that have been sampled one year (and survived) seem to be less likely to be nibbled the next. Maybe it is the rich lush tasty foliage that the plants grow while in the nursery greenhouses that they like, and the tougher, garden-grown leaves are less appealing.

The solution therefore seem to be to protect anything remotely juicy for at least its first season. I have a couple of old hanging baskets that are ideal for this.




These Tanacetum ‘Robinson’s Red’ should give a display of big daisies in the summer, but only if the rabbits leave them alone. If they get nibbled more, then I will upgrade the protection to the next stage…




This Rhododendron ‘Blue Tit’ is not supposed to be attractive to rabbits or deer, but the last little rhododendron that I planted in this spot was eaten to the ground! So I am taking no chances with this one, and it has a cage of chicken wire, with a few wires criss-crossing the top to deter deer. It shouldn’t outgrow this cage for a couple of years, by which time it should be less tasty.

For bigger shrubs, I am having to build bigger cages.




I treated myself to a lovely Magnolia ‘Susan’, and do not want it eaten, as it wasn’t cheap. So it has a 5 ft cage of deer netting to protect it for a few years. The netting needs to be at least 5 foot, and preferably 6ft, as the deer we have are not just little muntjac, or medium sized roe deer. No, we get the big ones, the red deer.




They have not been seen in the garden quite as often this year as last year, and I think our increasing activity levels in the garden puts them off. But after 4 days away last week, we returned to find three sitting in the middle of the lawn.

The ultimate solution, which we are using to keep them off the veggies and fruit, is a Big Fence…




They aren’t going to get into there! We haven’t managed to get all of the potager dug yet this year, but as we get a section cleared of the grass and roots and stones, we sow seeds. And we now have radishes, beets, mangetout, spinach and leeks all sprouting. It is very exciting!




Trees are yet another problem. We have standard tree guards around some small native trees and shrubs, but as soon as they poke their heads above the guards, then they run the risk of being eaten.




This little rowan had nice tall shoots before the deers’ visit last week, and now it has been eaten down to the guard. So we need a better solution, which might be to make cages like the shrub cages. It does make planting trees very costly.

My next challenge is to find a solution to slugs. We don’t use pellets, and hand-picking takes too long. I have tried some barrier methods with varying success, but currently I am just avoiding buying certain plants, such as hostas (obviously), delphiniums, lupins, and aubrieta.

Gardening here is a bit of a battle!


Wildlife update

The garden is still amazing us with the variety of wildlife that visits. The bird feeders are constantly covered in finches, and both sparrowhawks and kestrels come visiting to try and catch their dinner. Buzzards circle overhead every day, and tawny owls can be heard after dark. Today I was pleased to see a spotted flycatcher.

We are running our moth trap regularly, and still catching new species.




This huge moth is a Poplar Hawk Moth, caught a couple of weeks ago. You can see the size of it as it clings on to the egg box that we place in the trap for the moths to hide in. These moths have a characteristic resting position with their hind wings pushed so far forwards that they protrude in front of the larger forewings. Below is another photo once it was released onto a tree, showing a flash of the rusty brown colour on the hindwing.




Today we caught another new species for the garden, a frosted orange. This is an autumn flying moth, from late August onwards, so it is newly emerged, and very smart it was too. About thumb-nail sized.


Frosted orange


We haven’t had much time to look for other invertebrates, and hopefully will spend more time next year on beetles in particular, as we both made studies of them at university, many years ago. But we have see a few without trying, including this stunning Spotted Longhorn Beetle that came in and sat on our log basket.


Spotted Longhorn Beetle


The deer have been absent all summer, which the neighbours tell us is normal, and they should return in the autumn. But the rabbits have done what rabbits do best, and multiplied! There are now quite a few of them all over the garden , but they do seem to be mainly eat the grass at the moment, not my precious plants. Thank goodness! Must buy some chicken wire before next spring, to protect any new plants. (Or shoot all the rabbits…)




Spring days and Spring tides



We have been enjoying some lovely spring weather, with one particularly fine misty, dew-covered morning.






Once the mist cleared, then we had a fine sunny day, much enjoyed by the rabbits, who dozed in quiet corners.




We have also been having very high spring tides, and went down to Ilfracombe one morning to find that the water in the harbour was almost up to the level of the road!




Round the other side of the town, the Bristol Channel was putting on a fine show.




I have been plant shopping again, and am working hard to keep up with the planting. This is a lovely strongly scented spring shrub, Viburnum burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’.




I have planted it next to the path that doesn’t exist yet, along with three yellow grasses, Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’, and three blue spring perennials, Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’.




I started to level off the path, and now just need to put some stones down and tidy up the two ends. I am pleased with the area, and just need to keep on top of any regrowth of the suckering shrub that was there before.




We are going to Lundy on Tuesday, for a short holiday, staying in a cottage, and I will take some photos to show you all when I get back.

A garden of surprises



Our garden is full of surprises at the moment, delighting us with something new every week. We still have masses of daffodils of many types, and they are standing up to the weather now, so I don’t have to go round and rescue the flattened ones. I am still picking a bunch for the kitchen though, as there are just so many that the garden won’t miss them. I have found a clump of pretty peachy trumpets.




And on the front lawn is one clump of double daffs – not my favourite type, but it is good to have the variety




The crocuses are also doing really well with the improvement in the weather.




Some of our mystery deciduous shrubs have burst into bloom. One small shrub with a very elegant, delicate shape has shown itself to be a Corylopsis, and is covered in creamy bells. Beautiful!




Another large shrub has revealed itself as a flowering currant, which is a shrub that I always like to have in a garden, so that is great news. The flowers are still not fully open, but are a superb colour.




We have added yet another mammal to our garden list, as a badger ran across in front of the car the other evening, and up our steps into the garden. It was exciting, as I can count on one hand the number of badgers I have ever seen, but it is a mixed blessing as they can be destructive, and I don’t really need anything else digging holes in the garden! The rabbits are bad enough – this is supposed to be my herb bed, right  by the kitchen door, and a big fat doe dug a massive burrow before we could stop her…




We have filled it in. Grrr. There is also signs of nibbling on one of my new plants, so I have caged it with twigs, and will see if that deters them.




I have finally seen the deer in the garden during daylight, with a herd of seven grazing on the lawn late one afternoon. I have excellent views, but by the time I had fetched the camera they had boinged over the fence and were staring at me from next doors field.





I still have many bulbs yet to flower, and shrubs whose identities I cannot decipher from their twigs, so the garden has plenty more surprises for us to discover. What will tomorrow bring?



Another one for the mammals list!

Our mammals list for the garden is not huge – Red deer, squirrel, rabbit, fox. We hope to add hedgehog and maybe roe deer at some point, and there are definitely small mice or voles, but we are yet to catch a glimpse of them. But today we had a superb visitor – a stoat, and right by the house, no less.




It was interesting to watch him wiggle his way in and out of our log pile, popping his head up to check for danger, then disappearing again, only to emerge somewhere else. They are just so flexible. This is what we love about living in the countryside; being surrounded by such a wide variety of wildlife.

Our one big fat rabbit is now two big fat rabbits, so who knows how quickly they will produce lots of little rabbits. The stoat could come in very useful in keeping them in check, as they love a rabbit or three. I may love wildlife, but I don’t want all my precious plants nibbled by rabbits!

I am away for the next week, visiting family, so won’t be rambling on about Devon until I get back. Talk to you then!

Getting to know the neighbours…

Our human neighbours are all lovely, but of much more interest to me is the wildlife that lives in and around the garden. Apparently pheasants are reared locally for shooting, but every day more and more of them are finding that our garden is not only a gun-free zone, but comes with free food!



I keep finding small holes and tunnels in our slate garden walls, which I am assuming make safe, dry homes for small mammals of some sort.




It is very obvious that we get large numbers of red deer in the garden. There are tracks everywhere, as well as nibbled shoots. Precious new plants will have to be protected! This hydrangea has been stripped.




We have caught glimpses of them, but are yet to get a good view of them. These tracks below are just made by deer!


deertracks small


Last but by no means least, this chubby chap is a regular visitor, and remarkably undisturbed by my presence!