Squirrels or Sabotage?
First off I live in a major city. I have two garden spaces along a high rise type building. One in the front (facing North) and another a square raised bed in the south. The south area is blocked off by a huge wall. Only residents have access to there (or people they invite). This is also a major feeding station to all wildlife. People leave stuff out for the squirrels, rabbits, and mice all the time.
I've been having non stop problems with the back area ever since I started. I'd find plants broken off, up-rooted and chewed up. I did my research and tried planting rodent resistant and poisonous plants. All to no avail.
Anyways these are some plants I've seen shredded up, eaten down to the ground, dug up, and just ruined:
- Caladium: Bulbs dug up, shredded, eaten, missing. New shoots and leaves eaten off, missing, or left on the ground, stems gone.
- Coleus - in the front, high trafficked area usually fine. In the back, chewed up, parts missing, broken. To see animal damage on these was a first for me. I've grown these in other areas in the past w/o problem.
- Purple Striped Jew - chewed up, missing after a few days. This was an absolute first for me. I've always seen them spit up and rejected for the rest of the season in past gardens. But this one it kept up the whole season.
- Wishbone type flowers - everything all chopped down to the ground. Clean cut. I suspected Rabbits.
- Petunias - eaten te same way. Either to the ground or the flowers continuously picked off.
- sweet peas - cut at the base and left to wither.
- Moonflower - same as the sweet peas
- Marigolds - eaten, disbudded.
- Elephant Ear: Large plant. The leaves grew giant. Shredded. Large slashes along the veins. Holes and gouge marks. Scratches all over the leaf surfaces. Some looked like fingernails or a knife. But upon inspection the scratches were a bit close together for a human hand. Looked hideous. I got lots of complaints about how horrible the plants looked.
- Purple Coneflower: Chopped down to the ground, flower just left. Looked like rabbit damage? Would they eat en entire full sized stalk leaving no trace beside the flower head? I had to keep the plant caged in a huge rolled up wire mesh. As soon as that went down in October, the very night. The flowers and stems chopped on the ground.
- Now Daffodils, grape hyacinth, deer resistant tulips, dwarf iris, siberian squall. Found bulbs missing, up-rooted -shredded to pieces underneath a bench. Looks like squirrels ate them. I thought these are all poisonous bulbs. Anyways I dug up the few remaining I could find. I'll put them in the fridge and do what the southerners do, force them to bloom artificially and plant them that way.
I'm just devastated. Over all. What a waste of money and I am still not sure what is going on. It all looks animal damage, but doesn't make sense. I can't find enough reference of animals eating the plants I set out. I haven't been able to catch any humans in the act, so I don't know. Are there ways to outsmart these people and plant bulbs when they aren't around? Or is it the squirrels after all? Can they become immune to the poisons such plants produce? Can they even grow to seek out such plants? I noticed more damage to these than supposedly other more squirrel food type plants.