Spice Bush Rabbit Damage - Winter 2023 - January 2023

One of the plants that I picked up at this past year's Morton Arboretum Plant Sale - BUT failed to post about when I planted - was this decidious shrub called a Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin).  I tucked it in back by the fire pit and mostly forgot about it.  Below is a snapshot of the sign from the sale that I took back in April and you can see that it has a Forsythia with yellow Spring flowers.  

Below is the plant tag showing that it will grow up to be 6-12 feet tall and 6-12 feet wide.  And will handle partial shade:


Below is a photo showing what it looked like when we brought it home with green leaves on woody stems.  It was about 15" tall from the soil-level.

This was, clearly, not on the plan.  But, we still bought it, on a whim.

The REAL reason that we bought it was that the lady at the sale told us about the Spice Bush Swallowtail, a butterfly, that relies on this plant during the caterpillar stage.  What's not to like about that, right?   Helps us continue to meet our goal of being a Certified Wildlife Habitat, right?  

It seemed to grow just fine this year without much attention.  After all...that's what natives do, right?  Just get by on their own.  

When I was out processing some firewood earlier this week, I walked around and noticed that this Spice Bush had been gnawed at by the (dang!) rabbits this Winter.  See below for a look at the plant stem.  And below that...a closer look at the rabbit damage:


These (dang!) rabbits have been trouble for me in the garden each Winter, but this year, I was more proactive than I'd ever been in terms of protecting against them.  That practice was (mostly) focused on flowering shrubs like these Oakleaf Hydrangeas that didn't bloom in 2022.  In this post, I talked about how some gardeners recommend shaving Irish Spring soap into the garden as a rabbit deterrent, so that's something that I have to put on my shopping list to try this Winter. 

Based on what I've experienced with the seasonal growth with my tiny Hicks Yews, there is a few seasons that rabbits can have a big impact, but once the shrubs get established, it appears that they may move on to more tender, less-mature shrubs.

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