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!