The war of the roses by Marjorie Arons-Barron

Candide says, “We must cultivate our garden,” and it’s all the more important today as an escape from Donald Trump and the malevolent cacophony he brews. My garden is one reason I shall never move out of our house.  But, really, how does my garden grow?  The answer rests with Peter Rabbit. And Brer Rabbit, Roger Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, and Predator Bunny.  They are intent on destroying my floral sanctuary. And I am just as determined to stop them.

The rabbits relish young shoots, but the foundation for their food pyramid comprises hostas, lilies, and azaleas of any age.  (Whatever the varmints can’t reach on the azaleas, the deer will top off.) Most exasperating is the bunnies’ predilection for roses.

You’d think the thorns would deter them. But they don’t. Hybrid teas. David Austins. Floribundas. Doesn’t matter.  And they amplify damage they inflict chomping on leaves by bracing themselves on lower branches, breaking and leaving them, slain victims on the battlefield.

And war it is. We’ve tried predator pee, which has the side effect of attracting coyotes. Enviro-friendly Repels-All, made of dried blood, egg solids and garlic oil. Liquid Fence, and granular Rabbit Scram, bought in 25-pound drums.  The white-tails hesitated, then signaled, “Bring it on.”  Our most recent effort is Nature’s Mace. Encouraged by the name, we’re into our second drum, the company’s liquid concentrate our remaining back-up weapon.

We’ve tried solar-powered motion detectors, which emit blue light and sounds to scare off the long-eared beasts.  Neighborhood dogs hold back, but not Thumper. This year we’ve planted a Maginot line of perennial geraniums, whose odor repels rabbits. We’re in wait-and-see mode.

We’ve tried garlic, but never found it discouraged garden pests. Take my many attempts to grow tomatoes in pots on our deck. The squirrels and chipmunks would take a bite from each of several tomatoes and leave the others with gaping wounds. A friend suggested garlic cloves in the sprinkling can would help.  After evening watering, garlic cloves would cover the soil. By morning, the pieces would be flung brazenly across the deck, and the tomatoes would be chewed. Next strategy? Garlic powder.  No more luck.  The back of the house smelled like marinara sauce all summer.  By autumn, the cost of the yield averaged $17 per tomato.

For years, the rabbits’ evening itinerary had them checking in around five o’clock for hors d’oeuvres and appetizers.  I’d be standing at my kitchen window aggravated by their audacity.  By end of summer, some are large enough to put saddles on. Sometimes I grab a spray bottle of repellent, run out to my deck and chase after them.  “Take that, you little bastards,” I scream.  They disappear into the neighbor’s yard but return within minutes.  I’m mortified to think the neighbors overhear me haranguing the herd.

I gaze at my garden and admire what’s left of it, the begonias, rhododendron, peonies and daisies. But, wait, who’s that rustling the leaves of young lilies?  Not again. I look to the right. I look to the left.  Which weapon to choose?

This time I head for my office, looking in the closet for my old Rolodex.  Goldman. Governor. Greater Boston Legal Services. Ah, there it is. Gun Owners Action League. 508-393-5333. Maybe this will be the ultimate solution.