Those Wascally Wabbits

Gather ‘round, kids – it’s time for another installment of ‘Master…I’m sorry, a slip of the tongue, there…I meant to say ‘Disaster Gardener.’

The thing is, I’ve been butchering plant life the majority of my adulthood. To say I have a brown thumb would be like saying Leonardo DaVinci could draw. Whether perennials, annuals, succulents, shade-seekers, sun-bathers, dry climate or moisture-lovers, it matters not – I have left a trail of withered flora in my wake, stretching halfway across the country. If there were a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Plants, I’d have been dragged off amidst outraged public excoriation long ago. The neighbors call me ‘The Defoliator’ and start betting pools every spring about which new shrub or flower will expire first.

The struggling specimen pictured on the left is none other than Aquilegia, more commonly referred to as a Columbine. I know many of my past failures could be blamed in part on trying to grow the wrong types of plants – dragging my moist Midwestern expectations (and vegetation) to the semi-arid climate of Colorado. But this is the STATE FLOWER, it should be noted. Until now I have avoided the roving bands of horticultural zealots who would have me disemboweled with a rusty garden trowel, but it’s only a matter of time.

The Better Homes and Gardens website says Columbines are an easy-to-grow perennial (they should really leave the joke-writing to the professionals). This one went in the ground a month ago, which is how long it has taken for all the blooms to fall off, save for one, left to taunt me. As a friend of mine noted, somewhere in a plant post office is my picture hanging on the wall.

But the one on the right I can’t take credit for. That is what the rabbits have left of my Asiatic lily, despite my best efforts to keep them at bay. This thing has been guarded like Fort Knox, with fencing and cages and the urine of seventeen different predators and all form of security short of proximity alarms and motion detectors.

Toby, my dog, is the first line of defense. Perhaps the most docile animal on the planet, his one pleasure is giving chase if he spots a rabbit as he’s being let out to handle his business. These encounters are short-lived affairs, due mainly to the fact that Toby can’t keep his mouth shut, thereby telegraphing his intentions with a strangled bark as he shoots from the patio door. Then hare and hound tear ass across the lawn in classic Looney Tunes fashion, just long enough for the furry trespasser to squirt through the fence into one of the neighbors’ yards, leaving Toby standing in the glow of self-congratulatory triumph.

For the record, he’s never caught one, and I surmise they just like to make him think he’s earning his paycheck. I also believe they are wise to his morning and evening routines and plan their real work accordingly. Which means they basically have all night to feast on their choice of vegetation.

Some mornings I find my hand-crafted chicken wire cage tipped aside, perhaps by a gust of wind but more likely a burly if dim-witted raccoon enlisted by the rabbits to do their dirty work, and the targeted greenery chewed to the ground. The lilies are a favorite, though they also decimated a barberry last year, chosen specifically for its thorny (and, I assumed, invincible) nature. But, like the dog, that proved not to be a deterrent.

So why expend all this time and energy to keep the rabbits away from my plants? I’m sorry, but when it comes to murdering the foliage around here, that’s my job.

Share this Post: