April 09, 2013

Terrified Tuesday:
The damage is done

This is the most difficult type of post for me to write and document. It isn't pretty. It's sad and disgusting and frustrating. For that reason, I'm starting with a photo of a happier time.

lilac love

But this is Terrified Tuesday, a meme hosted by Catharine at Catharine Howard Gardens. When I heard about this meme, I knew the subject of this post was a perfect fit.

Prepare yourself.

This is very disturbing.

Ready?

damage1

damage2

damage3

damage4

evidence

Yes, if you guessed rabbit damage, you are correct. And the victim is my lovely Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri). It is, hands down, the sweetest scented plant in my garden. One whiff and you feel like you've died and gone to heaven.

What happened, and why doesn't this happen every winter? I guess it probably does happen every winter to some extent. But this winter we had more snow cover than average, and it stuck around longer and didn't melt between snowstorms as much.

Consequently, the rabbits had a stepping stool up to those tasty little Lilac buds and branches. Once they had a taste of that sweet ambrosia, they were hooked.

Darn! I can't really blame them ... well, yes I can.

Alright, let's try to look on the bright side. The plant needed trimming--maybe not so much trimming, but it needed a haircut. So the dastardly rabbits did me a favor ... sort of. The Lilac won't be as pretty this June, but it will survive. And it will be nicely formed for the next season.

Hopefully we won't get quite as much snow next winter.

overgrown

51 comments:

  1. This would work if there were a Furious Friday meme as well:) Oh, those pesky rabbits! I do hope your lilac survives; it looks so beautiful in full bloom.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, very much so, Rose! When I first saw the damage, we still had about 18 inches of snow cover, so it was obvious to see what happened. I was too mad and sad to photograph it then, and too tired of winter. I'm sure the Lilac will survive, since most of the branches are just fine. But it won't look very nice this year.

      Delete
  2. I can empathize with you. I had that problem last Winter when the snow here was deep. This year I have not found much damage - YET. Still checking. Here along Lake Michigan I have so many deer and that is always my concern. Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jack. I know deer can do just as much if not more damage to plants. My parents have had several, more rural, properties where deer and their evidence were very prevalent. My constant battle is with the rabbits. They have destroyed so many of my plants over the years.

      Delete
  3. How awful and you have my sympathy. I have the same problems with some of my roses. The little furry beggers nipped the canes right off three of my roses and I didn't notice until the snow left the ground. I think it happens when the snow lays thick and heavy. They left a trail hither and yon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your words of condolence, Lorraine. ;-) So sorry about your Roses! I haven't noticed much damage to my Roses, but I don't have many, and I tend to cut them way back in the fall anyway. It's always hard when an animal takes control of the garden, but then I guess that's nature telling us it is ultimately in control.

      Delete
  4. Oh, I feel for you! Fortunately we don't have rabbits around here, lots of other creatures that create problem but not rabbits. Must be sooooo frustrating! Hope your lilac survives its unscheduled trimming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Helene. Actually, it's sad and frustrating and terrifying, and funny at the same time. Rabbits are fascinating little creatures. They are so cute and furry, and yet they are terrorists when it comes to plants. As the years go by, I've learned to accept that they will rampage and that I don't have much control--short of putting fences up around every plant they like! So, I've stopped planting their favorites and now go with mostly rabbit-repellent plants. :)

      Delete
    2. A bit the same attitude I have towards the squirrels in my garden, love to see them playing but hate the damage they do. Haven't really found a way to keep them away, except for the gravel in my window boxes, that works!

      Delete
  5. Oh no! Those little brats! I like your positive attitude though, about how they "helped" you by trimming it. I hope your lilac does all right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My first reaction when I saw the damage several weeks ago was deep disappointment, then anger, then a chuckle. Kind of like you feel when your kids let you down. And then I realized I could work with the "trim job" they had started for me. The main middle branches of the Lilac are just fine, because they couldn't reach the tops. So, it's just a matter of living with the weird shape until this year's blooms fade. Then I'll give it a nice even trim.

      Delete
  6. You actually had me terrified for a moment there... JK.
    Hard to believe such cute little creatures could do such destruction. We have no bunnies here, so what do I know?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are lucky to avoid the clutches of the evil, big-eared plant-killers! Seriously, rabbits are my biggest challenge in my current garden. We're suburban, bordering on a very small forest surrounded by homes. No high-end predators, beyond people and dogs. So, rabbits are very plentiful.

      Delete
  7. OMG...I can't believe those darn rabbits did so much damage! The really odd thing is that it looks like on most of the branches they ate them at an angle....kind of the way they are suppose to be cut!!! Maybe they were just so hungry, but they tried to be helpful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I noticed that, too, Christy. I'm trying to look on the bright side. The Lilac will, ultimately, be OK. So, it could be much worse.

      Delete
  8. May I suggest a healthy dose of foxes, coyotes, and red tailed hawks. They pruned my flowering quince like that two winters ago and it has recovered, but now it's got a nice fence. Our yard is like a whole series of little shrub gulags, and then you find out which shrubs they like next best (Oh, a woody St. John's wort!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, good advice! If we were just a tad further out of town, these rabbits would be food for higher-end predators. I keep encouraging my neighbors to let their dogs roam freely. I gave up on Tulips long ago. Lilies, vegetables, and other rabbit-favorites are surrounded by sturdy fences. The Lilac is too big for a fence, and usually doesn't sustain so much damage. I might have to wrap it next winter, though.

      Delete
  9. It will be a shame to loose the flowers this year but at least the plant will survive. Can't you offer up some protection for those pesky bunnies?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of the Lilac will still have blooms, but it will have a funny shape this year. The bush is too big, and in a funny spot for a fence. But I might plant some rabbit-repellent plants around it--Dusty Miller, Onions, Garlic, etc. I don't have any patience for spraying organic repellents after every rain. I avoid planting things that rabbits like to eat. And I try to protect the existing favorites.

      Delete
  10. I have been where you are many times before. My best advice is chicken wire around the denuded shrubs to allow them time to grow back. That, and a sense of humour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, a sense of humor is mandatory where rabbits have a presence! I wish they weren't so darned cute. I can't eliminate them, so I just have to try to live with them. The Lilac bush is too large, and in a weird spot, for a fence or a chicken wire barrier. But I will trim it after it blooms and plant some rabbit-repellent plants around it. Maybe I'll wrap it before next winter's snow.

      Delete
  11. How frustrating! :( I've had bunnies prune flowers but never a shrub. Maybe your lilac will look fabulous with it's new 'do, after all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the hope, Tammy. After it blooms in June, I'll give it a nice shaping trim. And maybe wrap it next fall before winter sets in.

      Delete
  12. Agh ... rabbit woes. I feel your pain. I have many plants with a very odd 'v' shape as they rabbits nibble the base and can't reach the tops. I'm with Patty. I've recently stocked up on chicken wire to persuade them to move on. Glad to hear the plant will pull through ... hear is to next season!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, it's going to look funny this year until I prune it. ;-) The Lilac is too big and in the front yard, so chicken wire isn't really an option. But I think I'll add some rabbit-repellent plants around it. Soon the rabbits will have tasty grass and more desirable plants to nibble on.

      Delete
  13. I am so , so sorry for you. I can understand how you feel, but yes look at the bright side an dthink about a renewal of your beautiful plant. You can't do anything else. :-( Cheer up, spring is here and wil bring you some colors to forget.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lula. Rabbits are my biggest challenge in this garden. Last year it was the drought, but that doesn't happen much here. If the biggest threat is rabbits, I guess I just have to keep finding ways to deal with them. If I can convince my husband that we need a dog...

      Delete
  14. I had some rabbit damage over the winter. I wonder if that second picture might be mice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you know the frustration! It certainly could include mouse damage, too. While I did see plentiful rabbit scat and no mouse scat, the latter is hard to see on top of leaf and bark mulch.

      Delete
  15. Rabbits trim my weigela and deer my red twig dogwood...and many times they get at my ground cover roses...but the voles have decimated whole swaths of the lawn, the crocus, several grasses and other plants...and the deer have devoured most of the tulips...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darn, that is discouraging, Donna! I was thinking about planting Red Twig Dogwoods this spring. Do you think the rabbits would nibble on them? I was reading something today that said they don't usually go for Lilacs--but apparently they do go for some varieties, maybe more so when the pickings are slim. Voles are here, too. They really creep me out. I gave up on Tulips years ago!

      Delete
  16. Poor shrubs...

    Our neighbours down the street have pollarded trees like that, maybe giant rabbits come out at night and nibble.

    Jen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tee hee. That's what I was thinking, too. Giant carnivorous rabbits with big teeth, that start with plants and shrubs and then move on to gardeners... ;-)

      Delete
  17. I too have had serious rabbit damage. They girdled and killed a weeping Japanese Maple worth $450. But they did it in summer. so I think they did it for spite! I feel bad for your lilac, but at least it is a plant that can be cut back hard to come back to full glory.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For such cute little critters, they can be very evil with plants. And we saw two of them fighting out in the garden tonight! They were hopping over each other and trying to establish dominance. It was kind of fun to watch. Sorry to hear about your Japanese Maple!

      Delete
  18. Your poor lilac, actually you are right, this plant takes pruning really well. Hopefully they didn't get all the buds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They ate all the buds on the outer branches, but there are many branches left with lots of buds. They don't seem to be interested in the Lilac anymore, now that the snow has melted. So they must have been pretty hungry and couldn't find anything else sticking out of the snow to eat. Now I'm anxious to prune it, but I'll wait until the flowers fade.

      Delete
  19. Oh, your poor lilac! I hope it enjoyed the "pruning", and makes more flowers than usual. I can imagine, though, that it would taste good, if one was a rabbit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure it will be pretty funny looking this spring, but it should be back to health for next year ... if we don't have a repeat massive snowfall. Maybe I'll wrap it in burlap next winter. Pesky rabbits!

      Delete
  20. Urg - they are SO destructive. I ended up blowing almost my entire garden budget for last year on rabbit fencing, which (so far) has kept the bunnies off my plants. Before that, I would face damage like this and it is so disheartening to lose plants entirely, or find that they have been pruned by hungry rabbits. You have my sympathy. Here's to the Syringa growing back with renewed vigour!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the encouragement and commiseration! I have lots of fencing around my garden, too. The Lilacs have never needed it before, but maybe the bunnies were just reminding me it's time to prune! ;-)

      Delete
  21. Smutno, że nie będziesz w tym roku wąchać kwiatów. Króliki były pewno bardzo głodne i się poczęstowały Twoim krzewem. Dziękuję za miłe odwiedziny i zapraszam znowu. Pozdrawiam.
    Sadly, you will not smell the flowers this year. Rabbits were certainly very hungry and ate twigs. Thank you for your kind visit and welcome back. Yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Giga. Actually, many of the branches still have buds. So after they bloom, I will be out pruning the Lilacs to give them a better shape. I'm still mad at the rabbits, though.

      Delete
  22. Wretched critters, at least you didn't lose the plant, but it will be a shame if it doesn't flower much this year. No apparent rabbit problem here, but I wouldn't be surprised given the surrounding environment. There are certainly some large and healthy rabbit colonies on the Island...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it will bloom quite a bit, but there's no doubt it's going to have an odd shape! I hope you don't have to deal much with the large-eared villains!

      Delete
  23. Oh, those rabbits! I am glad your beautiful shrub will survive! Bunnies are so cute, and I love them when they are munching on weeds in the middle of my lawn. But when they discover my toad lilies or pansies, that is another story!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I have to admit they're cute and fascinating to watch. But when they make a beeline for my plants, I'm dashing out the door to scare them away!!!!

      Delete
  24. What a lousy Lagomorph, and your poor Lilac. I do hope, as you say, that it won't ultimately be too much worse for the wear, but still. Honestly, sometimes trying to garden in the presence of sharp little rodent is very frustrating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the way you describe my garden's enemies! They are indeed sharp little rodents and the bane of my gardening existence. But I guess gardening would be too easy without them. ;-)

      Delete
  25. Wow ~ I never knew they would eat lilacs! That's crazy. No wonder people "dislike" them. They've eaten tulips before in my garden but no destruction like your lilac. So sorry you won't be able to enjoy it this year. I completely understand the disappointment. Hopefully next year it will come back more beautiful than ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree! I even read a source that said Lilacs repel rabbits! They must have been very hungry. No Tulips in my garden ... for many years!

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by!

(Your comment might not appear right away. PlantPostings uses comment moderation, and we read every comment before we publish.)