Rabbit Damage On Gold Cone Junipers - February 2024

Last week, I posted some photos of the (dang!) rabbit damage on our Oakleaf Hydrangeas that occured over the past few months.  I attempted to protect some things in the garden from the rabbits using Chicken Wire cages, but I must not have done enough this year.  The hydrangeas only bloom on 'old wood', so that means that 2024 will be the year of fewer Oakleaf Hydrangea blooms.  

But, the rabbits also went ham on other things in the garden.  And in particular...devoured the Gold Cone Junipers.   Some of the earliest shrubs that I installed, the three Gold Cone Junipers have seen highs and lows since 2019.    They've experienced some stress (at times), but also put on a spectacular show come Spring.  

By the Fall of 2021, the bottoms of these upright shrubs had emptied out.  Between rabbit pressure and natural decline, the bottom third was (mostly) bare.  But, they were still distinctly 'multi-stemmed' at the time.  

Now, thanks to the rabbits, you might consider these Gold Cone Junipers to be "on standard". 

What does "On Standard" mean when it comes to shrubs?  From this Grims Garden post:

What is a shrub on standard? We generally call them lilac trees, or ninebark trees, or Rose-of-Sharon trees, the list goes on. What they actually are is a shrub that has been grown with a central stem (a standard) and all side branches removed to make a small, sturdy trunk, then a cultivar grafted to the top with the desired flowering characteristics. They come in lots of varieties and look like lollipops.

And this post on StackExchange talks about "On Standard" shrubs:

Standard, in this context, means trained into tree form. Usually standard shrubs and vines are trained from a young age, allowing only one stem to grow from the ground, forming the trunk. This must be kept free of sideshoots and laterals up to a certain point, which makes up the head of the standard.

One stem.  I have used the term "treeform" when it comes to the three Doublefile Viburnums that I planted a few years back.  Turns out...those can also be called Doublefile Viburnum On Standard.   I've seen a number of conifers advertised as being 'on std' or 'on standard', but haven't bought one.  Could be something to think about for 2024, I guess.

But, in the meantime, thanks to the (dang) rabbits, our Gold Cone Junipers are closer to being 'on standard'.  Not sure that's a good thing, but here's what I saw - in a few photos - below.  First...are the distinct 45-degree angle cuts and gnaw marks on the stems of these junipers.

Rabbit Damage on Gold Cone Junipers

Here, below, is what they look like with the bottom half being totally bare.  There's two of them in this one photo:

Rabbit Damage on Gold Cone Junipers - Bottoms gnawed off.

And...you might ask...how, Jake, do you know that the rabbits were to be blame?  Have a look below for the crime scene:  a mix of rabbit nuggets, juniper needles and stems:

Rabbit Damage on Gold Cone Junipers - rabbit poop

Now that these stems have been gnawed bare, I'm going to go back with my pruners to clean up the trunks and remove the little nubs to make the trunks a bit more 'on standard' (multiple-stem 'on standard' than 'eaten up by rabbits'.  

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