Monday, October 12, 2009

Sole Survivor

I had this great idea last year as the much-anticipated Pinetree Gardens catalog arrived. Instead of just ordering their luscious red zinnias to be planted in the hummingbird part of my “Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden”, I would also order zinnias in orange, yellow and white.

I would create waves of color. The red zinnias, as usual, would surround the hummingbird feeder. Next to them on either side would be the orange zinnias, followed by the yellow zinnias and ending with the white ones. Very Gertrude Jekyll.

I should know by now that any time I have one of my “great ideas”, it should be duly noted but never, ever put into practice.

Two rabbits moved into my backyard this year. Initially I wasn’t alarmed, having already dealt with a cotton-tail attack years ago. A truce of sorts was eventually reached. They stopped digging up and eating my tulip bulbs and I stopped planting tulip bulbs.

Tulips are a waste anyways. They look great the first spring and then are never seen again. I concentrate on bulbs that not only return every year, but also multiply, spreading color everywhere. Snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, grape hyacinths. Can’t beat ‘em.

So when a couple of Peter Rabbit’s relatives showed up this spring, I allowed myself to think “how cute!”. For about 30 seconds. Which is how long it took me to discover that all of the tiny annual seedlings interspersed among the perennials were really a Bunny Buffet.

I start all of my annuals from seed. I fill in the gaps between the perennials with them, creating little spots of color. This year, I had only gaps. The seedlings never made it past their first set of true leaves.

Those waves of color in the Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden? Never happened. I planted the zinnia seeds, was happy to see most of them germinate and thrilled when the seedlings made it to their first set of true leaves. Then I never saw them again.

Literally overnight, every single plant but one disappeared, victims of the voracious rabbits. Perhaps mocking me, they allowed one zinnia to grow. Appropriately it is white, the color of mourning in most Asian cultures.

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