Allium ‘Milleninum’

I’ve grown Allium ‘Milleninum’ for several years without any issues and have regularly sung its many praises.  It produces dozens of long-blooming rosy-purplish blooms in mid to late summer. And when it does go to seed, it does not produce unwanted seedlings as other ornamental onions do. The flowers attract more pollinators than almost anything else in the garden. It’s never been bothered by disease, is able to tolerate drought, and the aromatic foliage has been absolutely ignored by our growing population of rabbits.

It’s been a regular jewel in the crown for a garden….

Allium 'Millenium' 2018

All of those statements have been 100% true until this year. This year, there a war going on in the summer garden that has caused me to back down on one of the positives of this impressive allium.

Rabbits!

They have discovered they love the tasty onion blades of leaves surrounding the blooms. It’s been a semi-disaster for the plants. Instead of thick tuffs of  attractive greenery surrounding the forming buds, my allium plants look more like this:

 

allium 'Millenium'

I have cages of chicken wire surrounding the plants. I use sprinkles of chili powder, and both granules and squirt bottles of Liquid Fence for rabbits around all of the ornamental garden now.

I am armed with these weapons as I slip out in the early morning garden to see what damage has been done. I fear it’s a losing battle and I’m looking more and more like Bill Murray and the tenacious gopher in Caddyshack. Very frustrating for me but I’m sure I’m providing much entertainment for the neighbors!

caddyshack

One thing I have learned from the 4 or 5 rabbits I see daily, there is no plant that is absolutely off limits to rabbits. They will sample everything in the garden until they find favorites. That’s why the Allium ‘Millenium’ is always touted as rabbit resistant and never as rabbit proof.  Sigh…

I LOVE fuzzy little bunnies but….

…. we’ve been lulled into a rabbit takeover. During our severe 2014-15 winter, we watched from the window as one sad rabbit fought to survive atop 3′ of snow. We were pulling for the bunny as it nibbled birdseed and whatever else it could find. At neighborhood gatherings, we exchanged sightings and worried about our bunny.  He/she survived. That was then and this is now.

Perhaps we were seeing more than one or it found another survivor. There had to be a male and female because we now are seeing the breeding potential of rabbits. Yards this summer look a little like the invasion of jackrabbits out west. At times, all I see from the window are baby bunnies… very tame babies, baby bunnies that graze from yard to yard, from garden to garden.

I’m playing catch-up learning about their diets. What do they like and what do they not like to eat? They hop around the yard nibbling grass and that’s perfectly fine but when I discover nibbles from my garden, I worry.

They don’t seem to totally eat anything…. except all my sunflowers and liriope. They sample from the smorgasbord. They seem bent on destroying plants, not eating them.  I don’t want to harm the rabbits but trying to learn how to protect my garden. Coyotes, foxes and hawks are natural predator that may balance out the number but right now I need solutions.

Suggestion so far: red pepper spray (seems cruel), a dog or cat (too disgusting to visualize), barber shop hair, motion detector sprinklers, scare tape or balloons, pinwheels, but the only solution I see for me are plant cages. Drat. Wonder if there is a sure-fire solution other than harming these cute little cottontails….

A New Secret Garden

When I announced over dinner to mister gardener that I am developing a spot in the yard for a new secret garden, his response was, “A secret garden? Why would anyone want a secret garden?”

Surprised, I had to think a minute.  “Well, it’s the delight of planning, planting, the joy of using it, sharing it and the excitement of discovery.”

“If you ask me (nobody did), I don’t think it makes sense. It would be like me making a beautiful chair in the workshop, then bringing it up to the house and hiding it in a closet.  Maybe I’d share it.  Maybe I wouldn’t.”

I could see we were going nowhere with this.  “You’ve got a point, dear…”  And we switched to the conversation to the wonderful tomato harvest.

Like sugarplums, visions of the new secret garden are dancing in my head.  I have already spent several days hidden deep inside clearing, pruning, transplanting, and making room for what is to be. Dragging in a chair, I sometimes sit and think about the habitat I will create for the birds that I already see in this area, I imagine leading the grandchildren on anmy other bunny adventure picnic to an enchanted new wilderness, and I think of sipping my morning coffee here watching a microcosm what goes on in nature.  There are two bunnies that call this garden home.  They do not scurry when I approach.  They are stretched out on the cool earth.  Like the animals of the Galapagos they have no fear of humans.  So together we share this space, just me and the bunnies.

One fun feature is that I can peek out into the world of bright sunshine and roses and mowed grass but no one notices me hidden in the dappled sunlight in this new space.  The labs walk by searching and sniffing the air and I have seen mister gardener scratch his head and look around for me.  “Yoo hoo,” I say.  Up until my little announcement, he thought I was just weeding. Now he wonders if I’m actually going through with this notion.  I see it on his face.  I think secret gardens must appeal more to Maid Marions of the world who grew up with playhouses and sisters.  I will allow this Merry Man to join me in my secret garden for a cocktail on occasion.  I shall name it Sherwood Forest.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester