Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Beware!
Oh, the wages of indolence. Last year I wrapped my young trees in hardware cloth to protect them from rabbits and voles. This year, however, I got distracted by other things. And then it got so cold.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found much of the bark chewed off the lower trunk of my young Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), still just 5′ tall. The trunk was about half way to being completely girdled.
Same story with my two younger ‘Autumn Brilliance’ Serviceberries (Amelanchier x grandiflora).
So even though it is a bit like closing the barn door after the rabbits have escaped, I wrapped hardware cloth around my more vulnerable young trees and shrubs yesterday.
But now I’m getting paranoid. Should I protect all my trees and shrubs from the marauding rabbits? I’ve always assumed that once a woody plant got to a certain size, the rabbits would leave it alone. But the images I found on Google for rabbit damage to trees seem to contradict that assumption.
Plus, rabbits have been pretty abundant around here the last couple of years. I’m not sure what they do for food in winter other than gnaw on trees. I’ve considered putting out rabbit food to distract them from my plants, but I think that would just attract more rabbits and possibly other rodents even more unwanted.
Though it does seem that they have a preference for some woody plants over others. They seem to find Serviceberry particularly toothsome (so to speak). On the other hand, they haven’t even nibbled on my Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) or Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus). I’ve considered putting out rabbit food to distract them from my plants, but that would probably just attract more rabbits – and other even less welcome rodents.
I’m guessing that my Flowering Dogwood and Serviceberry will be OK. When I’ve seen bark damage on other young plants that were not completely girdled they’ve generally survived.
Do you protect your small trees and shrubs from winter nibbling?