Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
August, 2007
Regional Report

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Intermingling plants with tender foliage (Mexican evening primrose) with plants critters avoid (lantana) may help protect the favored species.

Rabbits Revisited

My spring planting experiment to see what plants rabbits will or won't eat continues, partially successfully. When I first wrote about this after transplanting, the rabbits had left most things alone for the first week or two. As the temperatures rose and no rain appeared, more plants must have started looking tasty to them! Or perhaps their population increase is applying pressure for food sources: it's a rabbit convention at the HOA common areas planted in grass. They bound away en masse when a human approaches, and it's like the ground is in motion there are so many of them. I'm surprised that I don't see a few raptors, even in this urban area, because there are tall trees around for perches to survey the bountiful prey.

In the absence of traditional predators (and the presence of really lazy cats), the rabbits graze at will. I had to finally give in to their perseverance and put chicken wire around guara, desert marigolds, and yarrow. The yarrow munching surprised me, but evidently the rabbits don't read the same plant descriptions that I do that state yarrow is ignored by rabbits.

Safe From Grazing
On the positive side, bunnies continue to ignore the rough-textured desert verbena, yellow dot, and lantana ground covers as well as a very pungeant Mount Lemmon marigold (Tagetes lemmonii). Aromatic salvia doesn't seem to interest them either.

Mexican hat (Ratibida columnaris) plants are finally gaining some height and blooms after being gnawed off at the base for a long stretch of time. I think these wildflowers are being inadvertently assisted by some type of hybrid cinnamon basil seedlings popping up all around them. The somewhat tough basil self sows in that area, and it has a really strong aroma. Normally I'd thin it, but I don't think the rabbits like to hop across it and get their feet smelly, so I'm letting it grow for now. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!

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