I recently bought a second-hand book called "The Making of a Garden Gertrude Jekyll" which is an anthology composed of Jerkyll's writings and photographs as well as paintings of gardens from the same era. I well know of Jekyll but have never read any of her books, so I am greatly enjoying this broad view of her garden philosophy.
PHOTO: GERTRUDE JEKYLL'S HOUSE & GARDEN AT MUNSTEAD WOOD
But I had to laugh when I came upon the quote below and realized that all gardeners — whether working then or now, famous and not — are all dealing with the same issues:
"Of bird, beasts and insect pests we have plenty. First, and worst, are rabbits. They will gnaw and nibble anything and everything that is newly planted . . . The necessity of wiring everything newly planted adds greatly to the labour and expense of the garden, and the unsightly grey wire netting is an unpleasant eyesore. When plants or bushes are well-established the rabbits leave them alone, though some families of plants are always irresistible — pinks and carnations, for instance, and nearly all cruciferae, such as wallflowers, stocks and Iberis. The only plants I know that they do not touch are rhododendrons and azaleas; they leave them for the hare, that is sure to get in every now and then, and who stands up on his hind-legs and will eat rose bushes quite high up."
The above shrub is Hamamelis vernalis 'Quasimodo,' a natural dwarf Witch Hazel. I got this in 2016 from Rare Finds Nursery in N.J. They offer many of their shrubs in different sizes and since this is a dwarf, I splurged on a large plant. I was thrilled when it arrived as it made a nice little statement in the garden from the get-go. It never occurred to me to cage it as I have large Witch Hazels elsewhere in the garden that were never caged and never touched by any browsing critters. Alas, the bunnies ate most of Quasimodo that first winter. So it's lived in a cage ever since and is just now really taking off and getting larger than it was when it arrived. Eventually it will be 3-4 feet high and wide. I hate the way it looks caged but I hate the way it looks chewed up more.
On the other hand, sometimes the bunnies do a nice job of winter pruning. This Fothergilla gardenii is almost 20 years old. Some years we cage it and some years we don't. It has a beautiful shape and size which we attribute to periodic bunny attacks. It is old enough and hardy enough that it comes back if it gets munched on. Since it is directly in our view from indoors year round, I really would rather not look at a cage all winter.
But the garden is full of cages at the moment even though I removed many of them before our recent tours. They'll go back on soon, while it is still lovely out and I won't mind spending an afternoon dealing with tightly rolled up lengths of wire. Things like my dwarf Ginkgos are at their mature size now that they are a dozen years old. No way will I chance someone deciding to munch on them this winter. But some folks clearly enjoy the idea of rabbits roaming free in the garden.
PHOTO: UNKNOWN PINTEREST SOURCE