|Callirhoe bushii - Bush's Poppy Mallow - before it got munched.|
A couple of months ago I planted a native perennial called Bush's Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe bushii) ordered from Gardens in the Wood of Grassy Creek.
I planted it in full sun in a mixed perennial border where it would have some space to grow to its projected size of 3-feet wide by 2-feet high.
Of course, I planted it in autumn, so I didn't expect it to do much rambling this winter, but it did provide a spot of cheerful evergreen foliage in an otherwise brown and sere landscape.
And then one day, perhaps a month ago, I came out and saw this:
|Crime scene photo: Callirhoe bushii, victim of an unknown herbivore|
I don't know if the plant can recover from such a severe chomping.
I also don't know for sure which critter is the culprit, but a quick search on the Web turned up the fact that rabbits - and deer - apparently prey on Callirhoe bushii.
So how to protect the plant? A small metal or plastic cage of some sort might help, I imagine, but I don't have anything like that on hand. (A homemade chicken-wire cage could work, but I'm not inclined to go through the trouble of buying a roll of chicken wire for this one perennial.)
And I don't fancy going out and spending a lot on some special critter repellant. I tried that last year to protect some crape myrtle and maple trees from deer that kept rubbing the bark off with their antlers and my deer apparently weren't at all bothered by the sprays. Who knows, maybe the deer here are olfactory-challenged.
A number of Internet sources suggest that sprinkling pepper on tender greens can deter marauding rabbits. Can I just dust some pepper on the leaves or should I make a pepper-and-garlic spray?
(Or is using pepper a cruel tactic? I read elsewhere on the 'Net that if a rabbit gets pepper in its eyes, the pain can be agonizing)
The final option of course is simply to let things take their course. I try to practice a very low-intervention garden. I could hope that the plant recovers and grows back. Perhaps when there is more greenery to be found in the springtime, the rabbits or deer will leave my Callirhoe off their menu?
There are plenty of plants that rabbit and deer don't eat (or at least have not eaten so far) and perhaps I would be better off in the long-run chalking this up to experience and learning that I should take better care in the future to make sure that new perennials I buy are not on a rabbit or deer's favorite-food list!
Y'all come back and visit or just subscribe by email to find out whether I try any of these rabbit repellent techniques and/or end up accidentally dousing myself in pepper-and-garlic spray. Stranger (but not smellier) things have happened.