The Peaceable Kingdom
This is Scabiosa. It's pretty - not my personal favorite, but pretty. The butterflies and bees like it, so I have it in my garden. It's semi-evergreen here and will bloom about 10 months out of the year if nothing eats it first.
This is Newman. He's pretty too. I've named all the rabbits in my garden Newman, after the devious mailman who is Jerry's arch-nemesis in Seinfeld. Newman loves Scabiosa. He prefers it plain, but he'll also take it with cayenne pepper, dog hair, and Deer-Off.
I have a complicated relationship with Newman. He's adorable, so it's hard to hate him. And he plays right into my Peaceable Kingdom and Rabbit Hill delusions. I love the idea of my yard as a haven for wildlife (a baby rabbit took refuge in my garage one spring and I brought him arugula - which, by the way, he didn't eat). Part of me enjoys having Newman in residence. I just don't want him raiding the refrigerator.
Newman sees it a little differently. His attitude is, I'm a rabbit, this is what rabbits do, deal with it. And because he's cute, I do deal with it. In addition to the scabiosa, Newman and his many flop-eared friends are partial to my pansies, rudbeckia, day lilies, and annual sunflowers. They may also have been responsible for the demise, a few years back, of my brand new and very expensive Illicium floridanum (which apparently is not poisonous to wildlife, so don't believe everything you read). I am still uncertain whether the perp was a bunny, a beaver, or Bambi.
Nevertheless, I cling to my Walt Disney version of nature. Destructive little monsters they may be, but I still feel bad when one of the Newmans has a fatal encounter with my neighbor's cat. Or when one ends up by the side of the road, which is what happened the other day.
This is a turkey vulture. He's not pretty. In fact, he's downright unattractive. He might even be considered disgusting to those of us with refined sensibilities. The turkey vulture is a year-round resident of North Carolina, but an infrequent visitor to my Peaceable Kingdom. However, because of the aforementioned roadside accident, one has been hanging around the neighborhood for the last few days. At first he gave me the creeps. My dog took one look at him and wanted to walk in the opposite direction. But as I learned in this entertaining and informative video, he's not a bad guy. He's a turkey vulture, and he's just doing what turkey vultures do. Yes he's a scavenger, but he's [generally] not a killer. So if you're alive, you can relax.
The best part is, he doesn't eat plants. Welcome to my kingdom, vulture.
3/3/2013 10:53:14 pm
Newman! I think of my bunnies as those Wascally Wabbits, but I like your name for them better. They have not eaten my scabiosa but just about everything else. I have a small fortune invested in poultry netting as a result.
3/4/2013 01:04:49 am
It's funny how their tastes differ from yard to yard. Rudbeckia is their absolute favorite in my garden, but scabiosa is a close second, and is their food of choice in the winter. Does the poultry netting work, or do they chew through it?
3/4/2013 12:36:29 am
"There is enough for all" read the sign in Rabbit Hill, though I don't recall that book featuring turkey vultures.
3/4/2013 01:06:04 am
"There is enough for all" could be the motto of my garden. Although there is actually enough for everyone but me.
Ha! -- a peaceable kingdom is a vicious place. I admire your "live and let live" approach. And I got a kick out of Newman's dining preferences, chuckling over the fact that he likes his garden plants with or without noxious sprays.
3/4/2013 01:08:27 am
First of all, who doesn't have a thing for pizza? Second, do you think I would have better luck if I tried the dried red pepper flakes rather than cayenne pepper? We also have some habanero powder but I don't want to send them to the hospital.
3/4/2013 12:47:20 am
I laughed at your naming all rabbits Newman after Seinfeld's Newman! It's hard to have a garden that attracts bugs, birds, bees, butterflies, but not rabbits, deer, vultures, etc. Too bad we couldn't just pick and choose which wildlife we want, and put up signs for the rest to stay out!
3/4/2013 01:09:32 am
Or better yet, put up a sign that says, "You may look, but please don't touch."
I thought you were going to say that they turkey vulture ate Newman. I call my rabbits Stan. Sure Stan is cute, but in my view cuteness does not provide license to devastate my woodland phlox. This is why I am trying to work out a system where I can signal to our Red Tailed Hawk and Cooper's Hawk when a dinner of Stan is readily available. So far the hawks are kind of slow on the uptake.
3/4/2013 09:59:32 am
This made me laugh! But don't you find that now that you've named Stan, you feel a little more attached to the guy?
3/5/2013 01:33:28 pm
I can't argue with you - Mother Nature is not too nice. Ever seen a butterfly caught in a spider web? Pretty horrifying.
I was smiling all the way through this post, because it is funny, and also because I feel exactly the same way! I like to think of my garden as a place where wildlife is welcome. On the other hand, I lose my peas and beans to baby bunnies each spring. It is frustrating to say the least.
3/5/2013 01:37:22 pm
If only you could feed them rabbit food, and have them thank you and leave your plants alone. Of course, all that would happen is they'd get word out to the entire family and pretty soon you'd have every manner of creature making himself at home in your hard.
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The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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