Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Vignette: Sweet and Sour

Critters in the garden are a mixed bag.  They add an extra element of surprise and liveliness but they can wreak havoc as well.  This week I've had demonstrations of both.

I wish all my visitors were this pleasant.

The birds have been having regular pool parties in the fountain

although they've been hard to catch on camera even from inside the house


Unfortunately, not all my visitors are so pleasant.  The raccoons have returned and are no longer confining their activities to messing with the backyard fountain.  On Sunday morning, I discovered they'd rampaged through just about every bed in my garden but I was pleased that they hadn't actually damaged any plants.  On Monday morning, I discovered that they'd dug up 3 plants I'd installed only 2 days before but none of these were damaged so I took their digging in stride.  However, on Tuesday morning, I found evidence they'd paid me another visit.

A series of muddy paw prints was the first clue 


But there was no evidence of their carousing around the backyard fountain or in the backyard or front yard beds and I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that perhaps the sprinklers, which ran in the wee hours of the morning, sent them packing.  I strolled through the area in front of the garage to see if they'd made a ruckus there.  Everything was as I'd left it the night before.  Then, while heading back to the house via the cutting garden, I discovered that I wasn't so lucky after all.

The drip irrigation system apparently isn't as intimidating as the sprinkler system

The raised planters didn't put them off either and, even though the dahlias and zinnias in those planters are packed in pretty closely, they didn't have a problem rummaging in among the plants

They even tore out a couple of the zinnias, most notably this plant that was about 3 feet tall

I briefly considered replanting it but this one was grown from a plug and clearly not deeply rooted.  It also showed the first signs of mildew, which usually signals the end of the zinnias' run, so I dropped it in the green bin.  I expect to pull out the dahlia tubers and zinnias by the end of the month anyway to clear the way for winter bloomers.


When it comes to nature, I guess gardeners must accept the bitter with the sweet.  But I can't help wishing those raccoons would take their business elsewhere, preferably before I replant my cutting beds.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

20 comments:

  1. :( I wonder what keeps them digging... do you think they are looking for grubs? Or are they just mischievous little bastards who like to mess with you? Sorry you have repeat events with them. I'm sure it is both expensive and frustrating.
    ~ Anna K

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    1. Like their fruitless search of the fountain, I think the raccoons are driven by some hard-wired need to search for grubs, even though there are a lot fewer of those present in the soil since the lawn came out. As the beds fill out, their destructive impact has decreased but cleaning up after them on a daily basis gets old fast.

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    1. They are relentless! And why do they have to dig the same areas 2 days in a row?

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  3. The raccoons are getting active here too. Must be the cooler temps? And they love the newly planted! I found some succulents pitched out of their new homes this morning. They crawl like commandos through the creeping fig covered back wall, very well camouflaged at night.

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    1. I remember them as year-round visitors in prior years but they gave me an extended pass during the summer months this year. They're making up for lost time now! I hope both our raccoon crews move on soon.

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  4. Those little jerks! I watched a neighbor plant bulbs the other day and carefully lay wire mesh over the top of each section and secure it with ground staples, although I imagine her issue is with squirrels instead of raccoons. I've been finding their walnut stash all over my garden.

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    1. I've yet to find effective methods of keeping either squirrels or raccoons at bay. At one point I purchased a book on outwitting squirrels but even that author mentioned that any effort he'd used worked only for a short while.

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  5. Time to call raccoon busters. They are so destructive. I feel your pain only rabbits are my nemesis.

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    1. We had rabbits here for the first time this spring, Lisa, so I can sympathize. I was shocked by how fast they could nibble seedlings and small plants to the ground but, by summer, the coyotes and hawks seemingly cleared them from the area here. I think the coyotes and raccoons must have a pact as nothing, except cars, seem to take out the raccoons.

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  6. Raccoon - it's the new white meat... Sorry the little creeps keep destroying your garden.

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    1. I've seen photos of roasted peacocks on-line here, Peter, but no roasted raccoons!

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  7. Argh! You live in a suburban jungle! I'd say get a Hav-a-hart trap, but where would you take the little critter if you caught it? CA probably has all sorts of wildlife protection laws, too.

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    1. Yeah, you're not allowed to trap and relocate raccoons here. It'd be fruitless anyway I suspect. I probably need to work out some kind of fencing around the raised planters of my cutting garden but then that makes caring for them more of a hassle too.

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  8. Kris, your fountain looks beautiful! I'd love to have a birth bath but unfortunately there are many cats in this area (feral and domestic) and they keep entering my garden, scaring birds and using my roses as litter Grrrr! I had to put canes, tiles and bricks around the roses to discourage them and looks horrible! I'm sorry about your damaged plants, I've never seen a racoon in my life, there are racoons here only in the northern provinces but always heard they are shy and rarely venture into gardens.

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    1. I wish our raccoons were shy, MDN! They will stop and stare you down if confronted here.

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  9. Hi Kris, those rotten raccoons, what a problem. It must be very disheartening to go out into the garden to find such destruction.

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    1. It's frustrating to be sure, Jane. At least last night's digging was moderate, although I still can't fathom why they keep coming back to the raised planters in the cutting garden.

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  10. Don't racoons make nice fur coats? Squirrels are my least favourite visitors and vicious little Muntjac deer. Wildlife does bring the garden to life. Badgers are beautiful and it is a privilege to have them although they snuffle up the lawn and make disgusting lavatories in my borders. I love to get a glimpse of the red fox even if he does leave smells and I love cute liitle wood mice even if they do eat my bulbs.

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  11. There's not much use for fur coats here in sunny Southern California!
    Like your badgers, raccoons are good-looking creatures, although not long on manners. I appreciate their oversight of the snail and slug population but do wish they'd give up their grub addiction.

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