The temperature has risen above the freezing point today for the first time in a few weeks, and the snow cover is starting to recede. For this, I'm thankful. I enjoy the white blanket that covers the garden, but a prolonged snow cover also makes for desperate wildlife. I've tried to be a good host to the wildlife that visits our garden, understanding that the plants I plant become a food source for the critters.
Until this past week, when temperatures were subzero for several days, there was some sign of rabbit damage on the shrubs in the garden. I'd protected some of the younger shrubs with chicken wire cages, and resigned myself to losing some branches on the some of the more established woody plants. But this week, the rabbits got cold and voracious.
My newly-planted Viburnum 'Allegheny' had several branches clipped from it and the bark of its lower trunks stripped.
The Weigela florida 'Variegata' plated beneath our bedroom window had its branches entirely clipped for the first 18 inches of the plant.
Neither of these shrubs had been touched all winter by the rabbits, but with so much of their food buried in snow, the rabbits turned to a more readily available food source. I suppose next winter, I'll need to cage more of the shrubs or just learn to live with these hungry little critters.