Thursday, July 30, 2009
Notes from the Garden: Suburban Menagerie
My Garden in Happier Days
I used to engage in a series of ongoing skirmishes with the animal pests that inhabited my yard.
The trouble began with the rabbits. One summer it seemed like there were rabbits everywhere. I had planted some Icelandic poppies and was eagerly waiting for the buds to open (a one-a-year event). One morning I looked and all the buds had been neatly nipped off.
My husband and I started a rabbit resettlement program (ok, we were young and naïve.) We put a live trap out in the garden and would drive the captured rabbits out to the industrial park and release them. We did this several times.
And then we caught a skunk instead. We retired the live trap and got out of the rabbit relocation business.
My neighbor took a more direct approach when a rabbit ate their newly planted pansies. He went out with an air rifle and shot it. I came home to a dead rabbit in my driveway and his wife and daughter crying, “Murderer!” as he shoveled it into a garbage bag.
I used to use nets to try to keep the birds from eating all our blueberries. Finally, I yanked the bushes and planted roses instead.
I’ve come to view the wildlife that share our yard as a kind of informal, fluid zoo. I realize that I’ve planted my house and garden where animals used to live. Small wonder if they burrow under my deck and raid my bird-feeder.
We have a lively population of chipmunks and squirrels. The chipmunks and moles have a network of tunnels throughout the flowerbeds. Now I sit in the garden and watch as they chase each other around the deck.
There’s a bird feeder outside the window where I write. It’s on a flexible metal pole. I find it entertaining when this big fat squirrel sets it to bouncing and goes flying off . HAHAHA. (It doesn’t take much to distract me when I’m on deadline).
One of the chipmunks took a more direct approach. He found the bag of birdseed in the garage and nipped the corner off, scattering birdseed all over the floor of the garage. No climbing necessary.
Recently, I noticed that the rabbits had nipped all the leaves off my lilies. Hmmm, I thought. Wonder if they’ll survive. The lilies, not the rabbits.
Ducks will lay their eggs anywhere. They are all like, Who you looking at? Earlier this summer, a pair of mallards laid their eggs in the flowerbed next door. The one belonging to Deadeye the bunny killer.
So I’m more laid back as a gardener than I used to be. Or maybe I’ve given up. I’ve accepted the fact that my yard is never going to be a showplace. There are some things that are just not meant to be.