Wednesday 23 March 2016

Who's been eating the Tulips?

Last weekend - lovely, calm and very warm for mid-March - I noticed a lot of holes in the grass. This is fairly normal up in the orchard. We're surrounded by fields and get rabbits, mice, occasional foxes and of course squirrels. The squirrels plunder the hazel trees and bury nuts all over, so at the end of the winter they are busy digging them up. There has also been digging around tree roots especially the roots of the now-dead Dawn Redwood. The redwood died a few years ago but we keep it because the birds love to sit at the top and sing, the wood-peckers still find grubs and stuff under the soft bark and the squirrels play up there and also use it as an escape from the neighbourhood cats.

However, the earthworks are much more extensive than usual. On Saturday I was admiring a group of tulips emerging from the grass below the big cherry tree. On Monday morning they had gone - just a muddy pit and shredded leaves and bits of bulbs. The tulip thieves have made  a real mess of the bed outside the kitchen window, where there are some beautiful red and yellow tulips which delight us every year. The holes are about 10 ins deep and across and nothing left. Although the bed is full of all kinds of bulbs - hyacinths, crocusses, bluebells - they seem to have targeted the tulips.

I consulted the Collins pests and diseases book about eaten tulip bulbs and they suggested only one culprit - SQUIRRELS. We've been here nearly 10 years and they've never done this before. Maybe with the mild weather they've started breeding early and are hungry. It's interesting that they seem to know where the tulips are from the leaves - they don't dig all over.

Anyway, on the basis they may be hungry I put out some seeds and nuts. But they are hardly touched this morning.

Maybe just a memory!

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