Canadian Hemlocks Update: Rabbits Destroying Young Trees

This past weekend, I wandered in the back part of our yard and was stunned to see the bare trunks of our tiny Canadian Hemlock trees.  They have been totally ravaged by what I presume to be rabbits.  Freaking rabbits.  Last year, I planted six small (like 18" tall) Canadian Hemlocks in two spots of the yard.  We lost one of them before Winter, but the other five appeared fine before Winter.

Today, the three in the very back are the ones I'm posting about and two of them have been totally attacked.  One of them you can see above with just the trunk remaining along with few lower branches.   This is the first real set of animal or critter damage that I've see on the trees in our yard.

It is interesting...I've noticed that almost every morning when I take Lizzie out, we have a pair of rabbits that are hanging in our yard.  Up until now, I thought that was nice to see the wildlife.  I mean...we're feeding the birds and squirrels, so I assume that the rabbits are finding a home in our fenced yard that might protect them from predators and is friendly to their feeding.

It appears that things are, ummm, too friendly.

Below is the second one that has been clipped clean by the freaking rabbits:

And, finally, it seems that the third one has fared better, but it too, has been eaten a bit.  You can see the healthiest one below:

So terribly frustrating.  You can see that I left a thick matted layer of leaves around these things to try to protect them from the cold temperatures in Winter, but I didn't think of protecting them from rabbits eating on them.  Now, I've learned something:  these would need some fencing around them to keep critters from picking at them.  Lesson learned.  If these survive this year - and that's a big "if" at this point, I'm going to have to buy some fencing and create little fence circles around them.

Looking back in the archives of the garden diary, I had created a similar fence/guard around our blueberry plant back in Elmhurst.  This post shows the photo of the plant with a small-gauge fence material that I think would work well here, too.

There doesn't appear to be a lot of bark damage on the trunks of these - instead the rabbits appear to have focused on the branches/limbs.  I'll watch them closely this Spring to see if there's any new growth that emerges, then I'll try to baby them back to life this Summer. 

But, I'm calling it now, I expect the Canadian Hemlock tree loss number to grow this year.  Bummer.


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