This article was published originally on 3/17/2010
Like many homeowners around the state, the horticulturists at Reiman Gardens are assessing damage to trees and shrubs caused by rabbits during the prolonged, snow-covered winter. So far they have identified 15 conifers and 35 other trees that are completely girdled and will need to be cut down and replaced.
The loss of trees in a public garden showplace is devastating. Not only is the loss great, but more labor (paid and volunteer) will be needed to remove damaged trees and then replace and establish healthy replacements.
The Gardens staff are treating this as an "opportunity" to make lemonade from this huge lemon. The goal is to enhance the collection by incorporating new plant introductions while focusing on the mission of sustainability.
A word about prevention: Each November, staff and volunteers spend hundreds of hours rabbit-proofing trees and shrubs by wrapping trees and creating wire fence barriers around susceptible shrubs, conforming to all suggested guidelines on height and materials, such as protecting trunks with 36-inch wraps. This year, "typical" guidelines were inadequate as seen in the photo below! Tree protection strategies are being reevaluated. Considerations include 4-foot wire fencing for shrubs and conifers and taller wrapping measures to help protect our trees.
A special fund-raising effort to raise $15,000 has been created to begin replacing lost trees. The estimated replacement cost for one tree is $300. Every bit will help and gifts of all sizes are accepted. You can email Sarah Rummery at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or call 515-294-2710. You can also mail a check to Reiman Gardens – 1407 University Blvd. Ames, IA 50011.
Rabbit feeding injury to larger trees at Reiman Gardens