The Easter Rabbit

 

best-house-rabbit-breeds-on-the-planet-54d4f74d4d59f continental giant rabbit My first Easter with Buck produced a giant pink stuffed rabbit. It was an Easter gift to me. It was spectacularly big and fluffy, and would have made a quite charming addition to a nursery-a nursery of the baby human sort.  I was a little taken aback, but I did not want to appear ungrateful.  I casually asked him about it over our Easter dinner. He had plenty to say about them. Rabbits are the most non confrontational animals on the planet. They eat lettuce. They are squeaky clean vegan creatures. Even their poop is polite-little perfectly formed pellets. They are soft, cuddly, and have eyes that could melt a heart of stone. They are just plain cute.Buck built a rabbit condo in the mid 1980’s. He found two rabbits at a garage sale, and bought them. Luckily, both rabbits were the same sex. There would be no baby bunnies.  Of course the rabbits needed a house. The house was basically a large box, constructed from beveled cedar siding, with a hip roof structure on the back side. Half of the hutch was completely enclosed.  The hardware cloth floor was with covered with straw. A pair of  mouse hole shaped doorways permitted travel from the covered portion of the hutch, to the open air terrace. The roof was hinged, and could be raised up, so the straw layer could easily be replaced. All this for a pair of rabbits. au_pets.19535.1flemish giant blue bunny I have a client who had a pet rabbit for almost a decade. This rabbit had a name, and a house. He ran around inside, and as he got older, outside. He would take a carrot, or a lettuce leaf from my hand. He was a big warm furry and utterly peaceful beast who bore no one any ill will. He was perfectly content for me to hold him, just like the Flemish giant blue bunny pictured above.

Eastern_Cottontail_(Sylvilagus_floridanus)Rabbit species are many, and are indigenous to ecosystems world wide, one of which is the Eastern cottontail pictured above.Even my back yard. I spotted a rabbit of incredible size out of my bathroom window last week-I could not believe the size. Later that early morning, I spotted the damage to my early spring garden.  Crocus flowers were sliced off. That rabbit even sliced off hellebore flowers.  Astonishing, given that hellebores are poisonous. Deer, which will eat just about anything in the landscape, won’t touch them.  Rabbits (forgive me Buck) are rodents.  Their teeth are formidably adapted to slice through any stem. What was even more irritating was the fact that what was chomped off was still laying there on the ground.  As in the best and biggest big stem of a double white flowering hellebore I have been coaxing along for several years.

Brown_Hare444 from wikipediaI do have clients whose gardens are on Lake Saint Clair. She has a not a rabbit or two, but a population living in her yard.  She would do just about anything to keep rabbits out of her garden. They would keep her perennial gardens mowed down, if they had the chance.  Every day, from spring until fall, they are eating something. I have only seen a rabbit, and rabbit damage twice in my yard, in over 20 years. I consider myself lucky. Pictured above-a brown hare.

lop rabbit Netherland Dutch dwarf from skybirdsales.co.ukThe natural world does not come with any guidelines, suggestions, or guarantees. It is up to the individual gardener to craft a truce, or wage a war with the rabbits.  I did spray my crocus with the most foul smelling natural rabbit repellent I could find. I was not interested in letting the rabbits rob me of my enjoyment of the crocus. I have not seen any damage since. As for my stuffed toy Easter rabbits from Buck, I have many. 12 years worth. I am not complaining. The rabbits and bunnies from him do not have any bad habits. As for the lop Dutch dwarf rabbit from Sky Bird Sales in the UK pictured above, he looks completely benign.

maxresdefault big Flemish giant rabbitI suspect that if my client could arrange to have the rabbits to a sumptous dinner spread of her own making every day, in exchange for them leaving her garden be, she would do it. Gardeners are a dedicated lot. But so are the rabbits.

4544652960Freddie from sheffieldrabbits.co.ukWill I ever get used to the destruction rabbits do to the garden?  Not likely.  They slice stems off that they do not have the good manners to eat. This  is infuriating. But I did enjoy taking some time to read about rabbits.  They are a very diverse group. Pictured above is Freddie, from Sheffield Rabbits in the UK. To follow are more photographs of rabbits I encountered in my reading yesterday-all of them as cute as could be.

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IMG_5continental giant rabbit from rossendale-giants.netContinental giant rabbit from Rossendale giants

mini-lop-rabbit-242mini lop rabbit

jack-rabbit-flickr-tinyfrogletjack rabbit

article-2573318-1C06A15800000578-776_964x641mad march hares dailymail.co.ukThe mad march hares, doing their spring dance.

Beautiful-White-New-Zealand-Rabbits-Wallpaperswhite New Zealand rabbits

Runt_and_Paxie flemish giant rabbit from wikipediaRunt and Paxie-can you tell who is who?

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Comments

  1. Anne Pratt says:

    Last year I put in three expensive, mature blueberry bushes. Truly, I don’t mind so much when they eat what they bite through. But seeing those blueberry flower buds and stems on the ground, uneaten – I feel your pain!

  2. Tony Romeyn says:

    I live in Prince George Northern BC. Not much snow left in the yard, so I have been cleaning up. Had several trees removed, the one popular had 5 or more holes in it as we saw the red headed woodpecker looking for tiny bugs this winter. In a strong wind the tree snapped at the point of the holes they left. I wonder why they don’t get headaches and all that work for a few little bugs. We have quite a few tulip bulbs about 5 inch out of the ground. We had Deer eating them for some years and I used to spread mothballs. It helped some. Then last year I was told by Art Knap Plant Land to try Bobbex and that has worked great.

  3. Julia Hofley says:

    Plantskydd granular formula (in a bag or canister) works great to deter rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, voles and has little to no smell to humans. It looks like coffee grounds. OMRI approved organic so food safe and terrific for pansies…and other delectables. It lasts for 6 weeks and then you reapply to the soil around the plants in the container or garden bed.

  4. Rob Beebe says:

    Nice post, Deborah. Those pesky little rodents have, in various years, levelled almost my entire dahlia population: cut off and wantonly abandoned not more than a few inches from the ground. The plants recover, fortunately, but not with the same tall growth structure I had intended, and then the blooms happen a little later than hoped for. I think the answer may be a very large and aggressive outdoors cat.
    R.

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Rob, see the recommendation for Plant Skyyd granules from Julia Hofley above-she has a garden full of delectable perennials, and she protects it all with Plant Skyyd. best, Deborah

      • Dianne Young says:

        Nancy Szerslag (Detroit News “Homestyle” magazine garden writer) swears by PlantSkydd. It’s hard to find in my mid-state area, but should be widely available in SE Michigan nurseries and greenhouses, or you can order direct online.

        • Deborah Silver says:

          Dear Dianne, I have a large planting of tulips out there for a client. I drenched it all with liquid fence, and all seems to be ok. If I see any sign that the deer are back, I will spray with Plantskyyd.The foul smell of it makes me want to black out, but if it works, I will deal with the stink. best, Deborah

  5. Abby Rupsa says:

    Oh how I loathe rabbits! I am a vegan for health reasons, but mostly for compassion to animals, but alas rabbits are an animal for which I have no soft spot. We have a tiny back yard with a massive deck and for too many years it was the bunny hangout. We finally put up a SECOND layer of wire fencing to deter them and it has worked wonders. Unfortunately, I have a 5″ scar on my shin from my husband stepping off the coil before I was done cutting it. Now everytime I look at my leg I think of those darn rabbits, but….. I won! No more perennial destruction, no more yellow burnt grass!

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Abby, my client who has hordes of them despises them too. She does not have a chicken wire option. When they are bad, they are very very bad. best, Deborah

  6. Marguerite says:

    I am surprised that Buck didn’t give you a stuffed Energizer Bunny. Your artistic thoughts and efforts just “keep going and going” and inspire us so much….. long may they wave! Maria Robledo, a very talented photographer in Brooklyn began experimenting with a new digital format by photographing her daughter’s (hypoallergenic) bunny, Cornillius around the house and studio. His photos could inspire Vermeer. He has his own instagram feed, demanded by all the traffic his images have generated. #corniliusbunny

  7. Merrie Carlock says:

    Lovely pictures. I have had rabbits completely level a newly planted client’s landscape in one winter, so I share the pain of too many bunnies in the garden!

    Just a few corrections though, as an Oakland County 4H Rabbit Club parent, for your consideration. First rabbits are not rodents. Rodents are the largest class of animals in the world in the Rodentia order while rabbits are in the Lagomorpha order. Here is a link to a taxonomy discussion on the subject. http://infinitespider.com/rabbits-rodents/

    Second, a minor breed ID correction. There are Dutch Rabbits and Nederland Dwarf but they are 2 different breeds. The one pictured is a Dutch.

    Happy Hopping!

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Merrie, thanks so much for your information. I am actually relieved to learn they are not rodents. I will make the correction on the rabbit name. Oakland County 4H Rabbit Club-I should have known. all the best, Deborah

  8. debra phillips says:

    my land is a “live, one and all.” on our five acres, rabbits do no harm. first we do not use chemicals and i will see them feasting on the clover. in the lawn that is at least when i do see them as we have a big coyote and great horned owl population.
    on that topic, our deer touch nothing and they walk thru my cutting garden! appreciatively, my next door neighbor feeds them deer corn, viola!
    cheers to this new gardening season!
    deb

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Debra, you have a balanced group of wildlife as you have a lot of property. Happy spring to you too. best, Deborah

  9. It seems that what the deer won’t eat the rabbits will. I have had cone flowers for years and suddenly last year they were constantly eaten to the ground. My garden smells of Irish Spring soap, rotten eggs and garlic but it’s pretty and it’s MINE (so far).

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Donna, it seems like the stinkier, the better. Plant Skyyd makes me want to wretch, but I do know gardeners who swear by how effective it is. best, Deborah

  10. Dear Deborah, oh my how a nerve has been touched here. Rabbits. Rodents. Destruction in the garden. I like you, had so much damage this year. Young ginkgo trees destroyed, bark of aspen trees chewed off, as well as the bottom bark of three crabapples. They even ate the dwarf evergreens and the newly planted hemlock hedge. They may be cute to look at but the destruction and damage they leave, at least in my garden, makes it awfully difficult to find them cute and cuddly. This winters damage is making me rethink my garden. Best, greg

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Greg, I know how you feel. last year rabbits chewed the heck out of a whole block of espaliers that were heeled in the ground for the winter over at Branch. This year, they all spent the winter inside out landscape building.Most of the trees have made an amazing recovery. However, some that had bark stripped from all around a big arm will be years in the recovery phase. We had very little snow this year, so food was readily available. I hate all the damage that animals do to the landscape. Unfortunately, they cannot differentiate between a beloved gingko, and a tree of heaven. best, Deborah

  11. Thanks, Deborah,
    What a lovely post! How cute are all those varieties of rabbits. Great photos. Thanks for a happy start to the day.

    We don’t have much of a rabbit population because foxes live nearby. But the depredations of squirrels, especially, but also chipmunks and deer, have been pretty hard on our crocuses this spring, and even our snowdrops. There are suspicious little holes dug everywhere. Hellebores not bothered.

    Could you post the name of your rabbit spray? I am hoping it will work on the squirrels, which proliferate here because of all our hickory and oak trees.

    • Deborah Silver says:

      Dear Star, if you have the stomach for it, Plant Skyyd is reputed to work. It is blood based.Look it up on line. I have good luck with liquid fence, but it has to be reapplied regularly. best, Deborah

  12. Charisse Andrews says:

    I think I would prefer rabbits in the garden to the voles which did incredible damage to my garden this winter. You can at least see rabbits and know thy enemy. I live on acreage, mostly oak and hickory woods. In 10 years never saw a single vole hole or observed any damage. Ugh, they ate my roses, my bulbs caring not that I worked so hard. I will not use poisons so I am researching a way to get rid of them. Too bad rabbits are vegan. I use a rabbit as a kind of mini logo on y blog. Had several as pets over the years and they really are sweet, comical and interesting. Thanks for a fun post.

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