I regret to inform you that the enemy has broken the terms of the 2019 Rabbit Peace Accord. All rabbits are hereby put on notice that no further temporary treaties will be entered into no matter how cute baby bunnies are.
For many years I enjoyed a gardening existence that was delightfully free of rabbits. It took me awhile to realize that the healthy local fox population had kept them in check. When people would ask me for recommendations for rabbit-resistant plants I had no answer: mine had never been tested.
Two years ago that changed. One night I looked out the window to find the complete collection of rabbits—five ranging in size from extra small to downright rotund—munching on the clover in the grass. If they had limited their browsing to the diverse group of plants that grows in the lawn peaceful coexistence might have been achieved, but predictably they strayed into the garden.
Rabbits are particularly frustrating garden foes because they rarely eat what they destroy. Rather, they seem to revel in taste testing a variety of plants, chomping them at the base only to spit them out and move along to the next plant, even if it is the same variety they just refused. There might be some solace in thinking that they enjoyed a fabulous meal at the garden buffet if they actually ate what they destroyed.
Rabbits are difficult to manage. Repeated attempts at trapping them yielded a long string of very angry and innocent opossums. The spray-on repellent I use religiously to ward off hungry deer—who at least have the courtesy to eat what they destroy—has no effect on rabbits. The only thing I’ve found that works is pellet-form of repellent made by PlantSkyyd that requires frequent applications, a job made more difficult by the fact that you never know what rabbits are going to target next.
Last year I came home from a week away in July to find that a rabbit had taken up residence in the raised bed where I was growing onions. She was clever, having created a tunnel of thick onion leaves over the top of the nursery where five of the cutest, fluffiest, most adorable little critters known to man were huddled up.
I didn’t have the heart to evict this cute crowd so an agreement was made: I would allow this brood to grow up and move along so long as they—and their relatives—agreed to stay out of my yard. I checked on them regularly, although they were well protected from predators on inside the 6-foot fence around the vegetable garden. And a few weeks later I was there as all five leapt out of the 21-inch high raised bed, through the holes in the fence and scattered to what I imagined might be the mouth of a waiting fox.
I had fulfilled my end of the bargain and I thought, until last week, that they had as well. Channeling my inner Mr. Magregor, I chased a rabbit out of the lawn, and was pleased when my histrionics had the desired effect and the rabbit hopped away at lightning speed.
And then I watched as ran to safety straight under the fence to my vegetable garden.
This article originally ran in Ozaukee Press.