A Bit Too Friendly?

We are constantly urged to make our gardens “wildlife friendly”. I’ve come to the conclusion that mine is too friendly by half!

I’m happy to be friends with the birds, bees and butterflies (though maybe not the Cabbage Whites) but, living in the countryside, I have a constant battle with rabbits, moles, squirrels and mice.  At the moment it’s the mice causing havoc.

I adore tulips –  those gorgeous ball-gown colours and textures: they are so welcome after the greyness of winter. I plant mine in pots – our garden is wet in winter and tulips like good drainage.  But something has been getting into the pots, making small holes and eating the bulbs.  I find shards of tulips lying on the surface – and I fume.

At first I blamed the squirrels. I tried putting scrunched-up chicken wire on top of the pots, but whatever-it-was managed to get in around the sides. So it had to be something smaller – field mice or voles. I’m not the only person suffering from these attacks and I heard that it is worse than usual this year.  So I did some research to find out what could be done.

Some internet conversations recommended various smelly preparations as repellents (mothballs, garlic…) – but other people said they didn’t work. One good idea is to plant other bulbs on top – the ones mice don’t like – Narcissi, Hyacinths or Muscari.  I’ll try that next year, it’s too late for this spring.

Another site suggested putting pebbles on top of the soil.  They specified hen’s-egg-size, but I thought it might look a bit odd.  So I experimented with large and small pebbles and coarse grit, using three identical pots with the same tulips in them, and then left them in a vulnerable place.  So far none of have succumbed, I prefer the grit from the aesthetic point of view.

I’ll continue to keep my garden wildlife-friendly – up to a point.  Even the baby bunnies have a certain charm (she says through gritted teeth!)  It’s just necessary to find a way to outwit them…

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2 thoughts on “A Bit Too Friendly?

  1. A few summers ago we had quite a mouse explosion around our place. I later found out it was because of the feed I left out for our chickens. The mice would climb up my purple hull pea vines and eat them. Instead of pods full of plump peas, I would find empty pods with neat little rows of holes chewed in them. I now have a mouse-proof chicken feeder and no longer see any signs of mice–hooray! Thankfully, they never bothered my tulips. Good luck with your flowers!

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