So before I write about spring cleanup in the garden, which is going pretty well, I have to touch on an unpleasant subject. Namely, my failure to protect all my woody plants from girdling.
Rabbits will chew the outer bark off of certain woody plants during the winter when other foods are scarce. Plants like Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora), above. Rabbits like young woody plants best, but this Serviceberry is at least 15 years old, so I guess they decided not to discriminate on the basis of age any longer. Funny thing, it’s the first time this plant was bothered by rabbits or any other mammal.
Rabbits also like roses. With roses, they’ll eat the whole cane as long as it is sufficiently tender. The little stick you see above is all that is left currently of what was once a fairly robust ‘Sally Holmes’.
This is the third time, and the second year in a row, that ‘Sally Holmes’ has been reduced to a nubbin. Each time she has sent up new canes, but the blooms are later and less prolific. Can this go on indefinitely?
Oh, and they also got at a newer Serviceberry – see the unfocused picture above, with the chicken wire applied after the damage was done. And they chewed on a new Witch Hazel (Hamemelis x intermedia) I planted this fall.
This is all an object lesson in the perils of procrastination. I kept thinking to myself, I should really protect those shrubs with chicken wire, and then I let it go for another weekend. And now look.
So now I have to see if the stems have been killed above the chew marks. The answer will be yes, unless somehow enough of the vascular tissue has survived. More than likely I will have to cut these shrubs down to below the chew marks, which is almost ground level. What a dreary prospect.
For the moment, the upper stems give no sign of dying, but it’s early still. Guess I’ll just try to preserve my optimism as long as possible.