A stripping bunny, but not the kind one would expect

So, the snow receded last week, and we were able to see what damage the desperately hungry rabbit(s) have been doing. They may have killed a couple of my apple trees.

The lead photo is a dwarf apple tree—espaliered into a knee-high “fence” around my raised bed potager. It may not make it.

I once asked a Master Gardener’s group the best way to murder a tree without leaving a trace of evidence. At the time, I had weed trees (Tree of Heaven) on a neighbor’s side of a fence and would have done anything to be rid of them.

After much debate among themselves, they determined that girdling the tree near it’s base to make it look like an animal stripped away the bark would be the best way to get away with murder. It would have to be stripped all the way around though. Trees’ nourishment travels up through the bark. Girdling (stripping) the bark will kill it.


The snow is gone, so I’m sure the rabbits have found plenty. other sources of food. I was going to wrap them with aluminum foil (the trees, not the rabbits). I will have to remember to wrap the trees with foil at the base for next winter.

And here’s a five-year-old columnar apple tree. Stripped. In the background is dwarf pear tree (part of my diamond-shaped pear tree espalier) with some damage.
And here’s a clematis vine—the vine separated from the roots. This will grow back though, so no long-term damage.
On the plus side, This Old House magazine used a photo of my house and shed in this month’s issue, in an article on garden sheds. To see the article on my garden in the magazine, visit here.


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Jim Charlier is an advertising designer/photographer/crafter with a serious gardening problem. He's co-written a garden design book featuring the funky, quirky and fun gardens by the gardeners of Buffalo titled "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" (BuffaloStyleGardens.com); he writes a long-standing garden blog (ArtofGardening.org); led the largest garden tour in America, Garden Walk Buffalo; has written for, or provided photography for dozens of magazines and books; has made presentations and participated in panel discussions on garden design and garden tourism nationally and internationally.

0 comments on “A stripping bunny, but not the kind one would expect

  1. Darn rabbits! I've used the foil trick around my clematis vines, and it does seem to repel the rabbits. Foil and fencing are the only long-term techniques that have worked for me. The rabbits tend to chew the bottom branches of my lilacs, so I end up following their pattern for pruning after the shrubs bloom. (When life gives you rabbits…) Congrats on the magazine feature!


  2. Oh, bummer! John Farfaglia from Niagara County Cornell Cooperative Extension suggests creating a cylinder out of hardware cloth and placing the cylinder around your tree. (Works for voles, too.) Let me know if aluminum foil works. Congrats on your famous shed. I think I am the only garden writer in the world who hasn't featured it. I think I need to correct that this year.


  3. The same thing happened to my 2 year old apple tree in North Buffalo. I'm going to try bridge grafting; I read it can be successful on young apples.


  4. I'll have to look up bridge grafting and see if it's even an option for my tree at this point. Thanks for the comment!


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