Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Where the Wild Things Are

Just as the garden was waking up a few weeks ago, the photo below captures what I spotted under my PJM rhododendrons in the front lawn, while looking outside my office window.
After snapping the above photo through the window, I ran outside and took another, while the rabbit stood, frozen.  Then, I shooed him/her away, thinking nothing more about it.
After the first grass cutting on April 11, Mr. P. comes inside and informs me there is a bare patch in the center of the lawn, and it looks as if some kind animal has made a hole (click on photo to enlarge and see the white arrow, pointing to where the hole was spotted.  Sadly, you can see much of winter's damage to my laurels and magnolia in this photo also.)
So, being the fixer that I am, I had some areas in the lawn that I tried to "seed mulch" to get the grass growing in bare spots.  I tackled this middle-of-the-lawn spot by first pulling away the scratched out grass, shooting a jet stream with the garden hose directly into the hole (nothing came out, and it was pretty shallow).  I then added some dirt, worked in a mulch of grass seed, and continued watering the next few days.

This past Saturday (two weeks later), Mr. P. informs me the hole is there again, and it looks like some kind of animal has been in the yard (this photo is AFTER he has mowed the lawn, but he noticed the disturbance prior to mowing).
Yep, it looks like there WAS some kind of animal in the yard, and upon closer inspection, there was not only the downy surrounding the hole, but there was actually fur within some of the clumps of downy, and it looked like rabbit fur.  All I could think was this animal must have an extremely low level of sensory perception (I won't say brain) to build a nest in the middle of an open, city lawn. Can you say not smart??
We have had our garden for ten years now, and I have never had trouble with rabbits.  However, last year, I did have a first-time occurrence of my asiatic lilies being chewed at their base, one by one.  I have replenished the plantings this year with new lilies, as I was not even seeing a sign of any new growth this season from those perennials.  I never spotted a rabbit last year, and certainly never saw signs of a nest like this.

We have a next door neighbor with a tabby cat, Harold, and he's my #1 suspect of interest in this case. We also have red-shouldered hawks and crows in our area, but for the most part, we are city folks without a host of fauna such as coyotes or fox, so I'm not suspecting the latter - yet.  Our entire yard is surrounded by brick fencing, with only the gates having ground openings, so the culprit had to be agile enough to quickly climb the fence or swoop down to seize the victim.  I have yet to interview Harold's person to see if they have seen any "gifts" recently dropped at their front or back doors, so that will be part of my forensic detail.

Meanwhile, I did what any city-slicker would do.  I have patched and reseeded the said crime scene, and went to Lowe's on Sunday and purchased this repellant made by Bonide:
We're forecast to have rain through mid-week, and the label said to sprinkle it around the area six hours prior to a rain.  So, I placed the Repels-ALL around the disturbed patch of lawn, and also around my replanted lilies.  I also put a small fencing around the latest plantings of asiatic lilies to try to somewhat protect them.
I have since read reviews saying the product is worthless (it doesn't harm the animals, supposedly just disturbs their nasal passages and encourages them to move on).  We'll see.  I also put a question out on my Hometalk page, seeking help identifying the hole and victim (you can see that here).  Wow!  In less than 24 hrs, I have had nearly 23,000 views and over 150 comments!  The overwhelming majority say rabbit, as mamas will pull their own fur out to fluff their babies' nests (just wait till they're born and you're raising them, mama!).  Only one person suggested a home remedy of talcum powder in the hole and a few mothballs in the garden.  I know mothballs supposedly keep cats away, and I really don't want to harm the animals - I just don't want them in MY garden!  Birds - Yes.  Squirrels - well, OK.  Moles, voles, snakes, gophers, rabbits - NO!  You probably already know my sentiments regarding the Canadian geese - oh, hell NO!

I have said it before, and I'll say it again, the best kind of rabbit in the garden is a faux rabbit!
On a more positive note, we have not seen but a random sighting of one pair of Canadian geese in our area within probably two months - that's good, because this is mating and breeding season.  Canadian geese will usually stay in the area in which they're born.  As long as it's not my area, that's okay with me.

The rain continues, and I will check in a couple days to see the status of the case. Until then, this is Inspector Clouseau, signing off.

Linking with:
Home Sweet Garden Party

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