Friday Flower – Daffodils (Kind of…)

Daffodil noses poking up to check if it's spring.

It started snowing again today. Just flurries, mind you – but still…

However, I perked up when I scuffed aside some leaves in one of the flower beds and found these daffodil tips poking up out of the ground. Yay! You can’t fool daffies — they know when it’s time to wake up.

It was also the first chance I had to get about most of the yard, as the ice and snow had melted into the ground and dried enough that it was safe for me to walk on. (Hint: don’t try walking on snowy or icy ground ever if you use crutches or a walker to get about. It makes for nasty falls. Been there, done that, didn’t at all enjoy the months of recovery…)

The look around confirmed what’d I’d expected: lots of damage to our landscaping.

I expect the rabbits and mice to forage on anything they can find during the winter. This year, unlike any other in the last twenty-five, the rabbits gnawed the bark off of every woody plant I had, including ones they’ll only touch if they are literally starving. I had left all the perennials uncut, as a food source for the bunnies and the birds. Most years we have to clean up most of the perennials we leave standing in the fall. Not this year. In parts of our yard every bit of nutritionally chompable plant matter is gone.

I’m not surprised. Our winter was exceptionally harsh, in terms of heavy snow and stretches of unremitting cold that allowed little or no melt-off.

Two of my huge rugosa rose bushes have all the bark and much of the cane gnawed off from the top of the snow depth, which was in drifted areas up to three or four feet, all the way down to ground level. Hopefully, they’ll recover from the roots – that’s one of the reasons I have rugosa roses, because they will usually regrow (usually).

My three highbush cranberry bushes are toast. The bunnies literally ate every scrap of them. Both of our large nannyberries are well gnawed. Again, I chose these types of bushes because they will, once established, grow up from the roots when bunnies or deer chew them down during the winters. They’ve recovered before, and hopefully they will again. We have two old, tough global arborvitae that the rabbits have never touched in twenty-plus years which have been gnawed to pieces. Those were planted by the previous owners, and aren’t a variety of shrub that can recover. So we’ll have to explore a replacement for them down the road.

The Buck roses were kept safe and sound in cages made for them when they were planted last summer. As new shrubs, they needed protection and got it. They all got haircuts, however, when the snow was deep enough that the bunnies could use their built-in snowshoes to stand on the top of the snow and bite off the tops of the rose canes.

Michael will spend a lunch hour or two over the next few weeks pruning out anything that has been badly gnawed, so that insects don’t get a chance to move into damaged wood and make things worse.

And after that, we’ll see how everything does!

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet!

James The Bunny Running Full Blast - look at those big ol' hind feetsies!

Wow – look at that bunny GO! I was outside enjoying the first real spring day on Monday whilst James was hopping about hither and yon, looking for anything yummy. And then…

BOOM!!!!! He went blasting past me at full speed because a dog came barreling through the neighbor’s yard right on the other side of our fence. Just look at those big ol’ hind feet – he is really hauling! I can’t believe I even got this shot. I had set the camera to its highest speed to try and catch a shot of the chippie running about, so when James startled and took off I focused on where I thought he would roar through and clicked the shutter just as he did!

James was quite safe, by the way — from the dog at least. The dog had no way to get into the yard, and never even saw James.

But James was very wise to run for cover, even if he was safe this time. We’ve had an enormous juvenile bald eagle hanging around — I saw it both yesterday and today. It even landed in the trees the next bock down, across the street.

Between our harsh winters, great horned owls, feral cats, bald eagles, loose dogs and the occasional coyote, a wild bunny’s life — even when he lives in our yard — isn’t easy.

Chippie!

There’s hope for our snow disappearing! We are having record highs all of a sudden to replace our record lows – and this morning a chipmunk surfaced from hibernation, busily snatching anything remotely edible it could find in our yard.

It’s a very odd blend of seasons, as we can still hear the great horned owls hooting every night, something we usually only hear in the depths of winter. One of the owls has been calling from a perch atop the birch in our front yard, which means that late at night we can hear him (her?) from inside the cozy warmth of the front rooms of our house. Gotta love it.

The songbirds are migrating back in, too. I heard a robin last week, and yesterday and today small flocks of red winged blackbirds have been landing in the trees, before moving on.

We will, of course, have more snow – this is Wisconsin after all – but for today, at least, as my favorite childhood cartoon character, Pogo, would say, “Spring is sprung!”

Bunny Snooze

Guess who decided to take a snooze just beyond our fence line one cold winter day?

James Son of Stewart Taking A Nap In The Snow

Yup – it’s James.

Although he’s soaking up the rays, James isn’t really out in the open. He’s carefully chosen his snoozing place, finding a spot in between our chain link fence on one side and the neighbor’s shed on the other. Overhead is a large maple tree. So (not surprisingly – he’s a very clevery bunny) James is reasonably protected from getting picked off by an airborne predator (as in one of our many bald eagles).

I'm a-sleepin' with one ear open!

Note the carefully positioned ear, btw – a bunny’s equivalent of sleeping with one eye open!

Friday Flower: Pretty and Yummy Too!

For once, a flower that the bunnies do not like — but us humans find delicious!

Chive blossom - yum!

It’s a chive!

If you’ve never grown chives, Oh Best Beloved, they are very easy plants to have in your garden. Mine grow even in thick heavy clay, with only half a day’s worth of sunshine, and they are quite hardy. The flowers are as edible as the leaves, but be careful – they are even more “potent” than the leaves with rich chive-y flavor.

They’re fun to toss into a salad to add some attractive visuals (who can resist eating flowers?) with a nice zest to boot!