Is there anything rabbits won’t eat? I asked a local Mr McGregor the other day in our New Forest garden. “Well” he said, “There’s the roller…..” Lettuces may be first on bunnies’ menus, but they show little sign of much discrimination. The deer come to their aid of course, when there is something interesting out of their reach. The roe deer take care of the higher stuff while the muntjac are usually available for the mid-level.
There is a particular bed near the front door I would like to take off the menu, but so far no luck. My first idea was to fence it off, as it were, with a low yew hedge. Isn’t yew poisonous? Not to our customers. The little plants were immediately gnawed down to their stalks, and further into the bed, the rugosa roses (pretty thorny, I’d thought) were thoroughly investigated, if not destroyed. Plants with aromatic leaves, or hairy ones, folklore says, are a turn-off. We tried sage (quickly scoffed), lavender (nibbled to bits) and rosemary (ditto). Daffodils, say the books, are pretty unpalatable. Fair enough, but that only takes care of March. Bluebells are not usually destroyed; but neither are they in the garden; they belong in the wood. The list of less delicious plants goes on, but a garden composed of them would look pretty odd: daffs, daphnes, buddlejas, bay, nerines, kniphofias, rhubarb…. Tulips are caviar. Roses, rhodies, camellias, hollies… the essential woodland garden plants are all popular menu items. We’ll go on experimenting, but at the moment fence and gun seem to be the only realistic solution.