My mother’s gardens were bountiful and beautiful. She could grow anything from radishes to roses. Given the chance, she’d work in them all day long.
Nevertheless, I keep trying to grow flowers. My success has been limited, mostly because we’ve moved to houses with too much shade. The bright floral expanses I dream of have never been possible.
So when we landed here with a sunny blank space along the west side of the lot, I attacked the southern end and deeded the northern portion to Cliff for vegetables. We’ve experimented annually.
Finally we figured out which plants disliked our conditions and which ones loved our area.
Then the rabbits found us.
Word spread quickly.
Our cafeteria was open for business.
Almost overnight, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter arrived with relatives. They adored the spinach, chomped through the lettuce, and savored rows of peas and green beans. My gerbera daisy blooms fell, gobbled like M&Ms, followed by the delphiniums. The gorgeous “Look-at-Me” blue delphinium that I had babied through the previous summer and anticipated with all my heart, was chewed to the ground.
Although late to the party, chipmunks quickly made up for lost time. Every morning, we found their strawberry breakfast remains on the front porch.
We are not cruel people. We don’t want to trap or poison these animals, not that we bargained for keeping them vitamined-up either. We’re not inclined to build fences, invest in chicken wire, or construct raised beds. So Maggie, after researching home remedies, filled a sprinkling can with vinegar and assorted hot pepper flakes and garlic powder. We watered the remaining plants each evening with the potion and scattered apple pieces, as tasty distractions.
It worked somewhat.
But every time it rained, we had to re-apply our tonic. Then summer fired up its heat and humidity. From inside our air-conditioned house, I looked out at empty plant cages. In previous years they had vanished among the lush leaves and flowers. Now they leaned, like so many crooked skeletons, hollow reminders of summers past.
I don’t know about Cliff, who considers himself lucky that rabbits and chipmunks don’t like tomato leaves or stalks, but I’m re-thinking next season. Maybe shrubs and statuary dotted among the irises and day lilies, that seem to taste terrible, will be scenic landscape enough.
Until then, I’m staying indoors, wearing my gardening hat, daydreaming on my desktop background garden that stands forever beautiful and safely un-nibbled.