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Garden with rabbits to keep out

A Rabbit Proof Garden

Making your Garden A Rabbit-Proof Zone

Rabbits are some of the cutest creatures to grace  our fields, ahem, and in my case garden. The problem with having a colony of rabbits in situ is their voracious appetite for most things green.

If you have rabbits in your garden you’ll have to forget about planting anything remotely ‘interesting’ because the rabbits will agree with you and eat it the night after you plant it out. Unfortunately for us gardeners, once rabbits find a good place to eat, they aren’t likely to stray far and will almost certainly tell their numerous friends and family where to dine.

There are lists of plants that are said to be unappetising to rabbits, most of which I have tried with mixed success.  The only thing I can say with any certainty is that rabbits are totally unpredictable in their choice of food so none of my suggestions come with any sort or guarantee. However, I have found plants with furry or prickly leaves to be distasteful to my local rabbit community so, for example, extremely thorny shrub roses such as the Rosa Rugosas  are thriving in my garden. Hollies seem to be immune to damage, as are the attractive Olearia macrodonta (an evergreen with holly-like leaves.) The variegated elaeagnus are untouched as are some prickly berberis, buddleia and rosemary shrubs.

Typically woodland plants thrive well in shady areas, unaffected by the local rabbit community. My hellebores are looking their spectacular best at the moment and come spring, a succession of  euphorbias will flower in profusion to be followed by foxgloves in summer and aconitums (monkshead)  in the autumn. However, these plants are not only poisonous to rabbits but also humans so best avoided if you have children playing in the garden.

There are some plants that I consider to be must-haves growing in the garden with doubtful ‘rabbitproofness.’  These are protected with small cylindrical cages made out of dark-green chicken wire. I’d be the first to admit this is not an attractive option, I’ve had to develop selective myopia in order to outwit the enemy. Likewise, all our young trees are protected with plastic spiral guards. They don’t look very pretty, but neither does a dead tree.  A bit of plastic between the two ensures both tree and rabbit live happily side by side.

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