The area under a bird feeder is a heavily traveled zone. Birds, squirrels, chipmunks, fox and wild turkeys are routinely seen under my feeder and I’m sure there are other critters who pass through that I’m not even aware of. We put a patchwork patio in this area primarily because planting things in such a trampled and pecked place would be absolute folly. But I do have attractive flower gardens that ring the area, and early every summer I plant these with a different assortment of annuals.
Usually the perennials, shrubs and annuals thrive in this area without too much of a problem. But this year I planted some ‘Golden Delicious’ pineapple sage, and placed one to the left of the bench that displays the succulents. What I didn’t know was that that space was frequently used for quick critter exits. If the fox comes around looking for a quick snack of squirrel or chipmunk, the smaller animals run to the left of the feeder. When my dog decides to bound after the wild turkeys, they too use that route. My ‘Golden Delicious’ was being trampled into herbal apple sauce.
Once the pineapple sage grows it will become a barrier itself, but the young plants are vulnerable. I wanted to protect the plant quickly, but attractively as well. I grabbed the expandable trellis I bought from Gardener’s Supply Company and quickly got the job done.
I see on their website that Gardener’s Supply Company is currently out if this product. Hopefully they’ll restock soon because I’ve found it to be useful and attractive in a number of situations. But this specific product aside, using a plant support for plant protection reminds us that an object can be useful for applications that it wasn’t necessarily intended for.
Other obelisks or wire baskets could also make an instant critter barrier, allowing the young plants to grow strong while forcing the animals to develop new habits at the same time. Take a look at what’s in your garden shed or garage, and think about how it might be put to use for ornament, protection, or some previously unconsidered function.