The Rabbitat

– Posted in: Garden Design

Habitat - or Rabbitat?When I filled out the application to certify my property as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation a few years ago, part of the form asked what sort of wildlife I’d already seen here. Red fox, groundhogs, birds, butterflies, deer: check. So why didn’t I think to add rabbits to the list? There are certainly plenty around, and they seem to be multiplying, as rabbits are wont to do.

 

White Bunny with Brown ComboWhite Bunny came to me as a gift from my friend Barbara when I moved into this house. She promised he wouldn’t be any trouble, and so far, he’s behaved quite well, though he does tend to move around a fair bit. He seems to enjoy having his picture taken and pops up in a lot of photos taken around here. In this shot, he’s posing with a potted combination of ‘Sweet Caroline Bronze’ sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), Carex buchananii, and Haloraghis erecta ‘Wellington Bronze’.

 

White Bunny with Bulbs May 06The following spring, he hopped up on the porch and starting lurking around the front door. He seems to think that his rusty color lets him blend into the surroundings, but he must forget that he’s white as well. Let’s just say that he’s hard to miss. Fortunately, this pot of forced bulbs was a little too tall for him to nibble on. The bulbs eventually passed their prime, but he decided to stay and hang out with a wagonful of potted foliage plants that were waiting to find a home in the garden.

 

White Bunny with Wagon May 06

 

Blue Glass Bunny Nov 07Blue Glass Bunny started out as Blue Gazing Bunny. When he arrived, he had a spiffy metallic coating like a gazing ball. But the books didn’t say anything about having to keep him indoors, so I let him out to play, and after a year or two, his shiny coat became dull. He doesn’t seem to be under-nourished, though. If he gets hungry, he can always nibble on the variegated strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) around him. (Hmmm…maybe that’s why I had such trouble getting those strawberries established.) Or maybe Tall Bunny across the path is responsible for the nibbled plants. Every time I see him, he’s sitting up all sweet and innocent, but can you really trust anything that cute? I think not.

 

Tall Bunny Sept 07

 

Meadow Bunny July 05Meadow Bunny guards the gate to the upper meadow. Most of the time he blends well into his surroundings, but on garden-tour days, he gets spiffed up with a bright bandana and holds a sign warning visitors of the unevenness of the meadow paths. And below, Stressed Bunny plays tic-tac-toe with his buddy. Apparently, Stressed Bunny is supposed to be a hare and his pal is supposed to be a tortoise, but I have my doubts about that. Maybe that’s why he’s stressed. Or maybe it’s because he’s been playing tic-tac-toe for three years and has yet to win a game!

Stressed Bunny July 05

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

Latest posts by Nancy J. Ondra (see all)

Comments on this entry are closed.

Lisa at Greenbow January 27, 2008, 7:22 pm

What a hoot Nan. Your rabbits are so well behaved. Mine on the other hand are vicious plant eating maniacs.

Just seeing these lovely pots and meadow makes me yearn for spring. It was so spring-like here today.

Hi Lisa! We had a pseudo-spring day here. It looked like spring from inside but felt like winter outdoors – a great excuse to rifle through the photo archives.
-Nan

Dave January 27, 2008, 9:08 pm

Yeah I’ll happily trade you the rabbits I have for the one’s you have! They look relatively easy to control. Nice pictures. I like the gate you have up there.

Also you need to tell stressed bunny to always take the middle square when he has the first turn!

Thanks for the tip, Dave. He’s plotting his strategy at this very moment, so I’ll pass along your tip!
-Nan

Stressed Bunny Jan 08

Ellis Hollow January 27, 2008, 9:43 pm

I’ve got one living under the shed adjacent to the veggie garden this winter, taking up the burrow started by a woodchuck a couple years ago. She keeps my cover crops closely mowed, but leaves some nice fertilizer. Guess I’ll be borrowing my friend’s Havahart trap again this spring.

Good luck with that, Craig! I’m lucky that the hawks and fox seem to be keeping the more-mobile bunnies under control for me.
-Nan

Carol January 27, 2008, 10:04 pm

Very cute. I fight rabbits all year long, but, like you, I can’t resist putting a few other rabbits around the garden. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship. So cute, yet so destructive.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Hi Carol! My rabbit collection started back when I kept pet bunnies at my old place. Poor Morgan and Duncan #1 are gone now, but their memory lives on in the statues.
-Nan

2greenthumbsup January 27, 2008, 10:34 pm

Hi Nan,

I’m with Carol – I have a love/hate relationship with the real bunnies too. I love to spot them out on the lawn, but I’m not so happy when I spot the destruction in the garden. My son and I have been finding lots of bunny prints in the snow all winter so were sure to have a new influx come spring.
Your bunnies will be a little harder to track with their discrete invisible bunny prints.

I see what you mean about meadow bunny blending in to his surroundings – I had to click for a larger image to spot him. The gate he guards is gorgeous! He’s obviously doing a good job as it’s still there! ;)

Cathy

I have the same relationship with deer, Cathy: It’s nice to see them out in the woods and fields, but finding their tracks all through my fenced-in front garden makes me fear what’s going to happen in spring. So far, these bunnies have behaved well. Below is Rusty Bunny standing guard in the cold frame. (That’s something akin to letting a fox guard the henhouse, I’d say.)
-Nan

Rusty Bunny Jan 08

Benjamin January 27, 2008, 11:22 pm

Ha, that was cool. I don’t mind the rabbits I get–but maybe I will next year when the plants enter year 2. I probably will. I love your gate! And what a view!

And not to say anything against this, or you (you know me), but I honestly deliberated HARD about that NWF sign. Maybe I was doing good if I bought it–that’s what it is, buying, and that’s the problem I had. Am I getting the sign for myself, for those who might see it, was it feather fluffing and chest thumping? Of COURSE I garden for wild life. I still might get one, but I’m stuck in a p.c. battle here with myself; I usually don’t have such battles so this irks me.

I understand exactly what you’re saying about the habitat sign, Benjamin. For me, it’s been worth the investment. I have mine posted near the road, and next to my meadow, to hopefully educate my neighbors about what’s going on here. No, my mower is not broken, No, it’s not just an abandoned field. No, I’m not interested in selling it as a building lot. I have seen people pull over to read the sign, so hopefully the message is getting out. I see that NWF has changed the program name to “Certified Wildlife Habitat,” and I don’t think the new sign is as attractive. I’m inclined to think that the certification is a neat idea, but you don’t really need to buy the sign now. You could always get it later it you choose to.
-Nan

Katie January 28, 2008, 12:00 am

That last picture made me snort out loud! Very funny post about rabbits. I like pictures that tell a story from year to year!

Katie at GardenPunks

Hey there, Katie! Thanks for reading, and welcome to GGW!
-Nan

Elly Phillips January 28, 2008, 8:47 am

Hi Nan!

Loved the bunnies on parade–what a great way to start the week! But poor Blue Glass Bunny, to have lost his luster! You’ll have to reassure him that he still looks fine as is.

Hey, Elly, you reminded me of a bunch of other bunnies that weren’t already in my archives. Below, Moon Gazing Bunny (I’m sure you remember that you lugged him back from England in your suitcase!), Drabbit (is it a dragon or a rabbit? I still haven’t decided), and Bright Bunny (no relation to White Bunny).
-Nan

Bunny trio Jan 08

Layanee January 29, 2008, 10:24 am

Who doesn’t love a bunny! Especially this kind! Very entertaining posts and great pictures as always!

Based on the comments here, Layanee, I’m thinking that there are quite a few people who *don’t* like rabbits (at least real ones), and with very good reason. But I agree with your sentiment, anyway.

Update: I see Carol at May Dreams Gardens has just posted on her own rabbit woes!

-Nan

Ken Schill from Sweden January 29, 2008, 10:25 am

Hi!
I think your rabbit on the pictures is harmless and cute.
But the real ones are not so cute, they eat everything they get over.
Here in Sweden we have big problem whith the German rabbit as we call it.
Regards Ken

Welcome, Ken! You’re quite right: There’s certainly nothing cute about the damage real rabbits can do to a garden. I hope my little statues don’t end up attracting more of them!
-Nan

Jim January 29, 2008, 9:13 pm

We’ve only had bunnies a couple times. We’re in an urban setting, but at the end of my block and over a couple is a huge landlocked cemetery and they come from there.

We’ve had raccoons come from the cemetery as well. They have the occasional lost deer over there. No one knows how they get there. And wild turkeys too, but we’ve not seen them. The turkeys probably know why the chicken crossed the road.

Did you know both Millard Filmore AND Rick James are buried not far from each other? Strange, but true.

Our common pest is the squirrel.

Hi Jim! My last garden was right next to a cemetery in the center of town, and it too had troublesome bunnies as well as the good (inanimate) kind. I guess there’s something to be said for cemeteries as wildlife habitat, especially where there’s little other open space.
-Nan

Yolanda Elizabet January 30, 2008, 3:00 pm

(N)Anny, get your gun! Your whole garden is infested with those wascally wabbits! :-)

Meadow bunny is my favourite; it looks great with that background!

There’s no rabbits at Bliss just slugs, loads of them.

Hi there, Yolanda Elizabet! Oh, don’t even mention slugs. I guess that’s one blessing of the frozen garden: being spared from those slimy critters for a while.
-Nan

kate January 30, 2008, 11:47 pm

Your rabbits are the best-behaved rabbits I’ve known in a garden. They behave admirably, look cute and don’t seem to get into any mischief, like eating delectable plants.

Yes, if only the other critters were so easily managed. Thanks for stopping by, Kate!
-Nan

Robin January 31, 2008, 10:27 am

Your rabbits are so cute and much better than the ones here at Robin’s Nesting Place. There is nothing left to one of my Burning Bushes but a stub.

I’d love to see you do something on garden ornaments. They add so much to the garden.This is definitely something I need to add to my own garden to personalize it more.

Ornaments are definitely on the list of topics for upcoming Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshops. That will be great fun!
-Nan

Mr. McGregor's Daughter January 31, 2008, 3:01 pm

It would be hypocritical of me to have bunny ornaments in my garden, so I confine myself to inside ones at Easter (mostly of the Beatrix Potter variety). That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them in others’ gardens. Yours are charming!

Seeing as how your garden is named Squirrelhaven, I’d think some little Nutkin figurines would be appropriate for the outdoors. Or maybe you don’t want to attract any more of the real ones!
-Nan

Amy Rockey November 9, 2009, 3:55 am

I love the tic tac toe rabbit/tortoise. I have been looking everywhere to buy them. Where did you get them? Thanks

I wish I could tell you, but they were a gift. If I ever find out the original source, I’ll e-mail you.
-Nan