Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vole War II

Last year I planted some gorgeous, tall, Asiatic lilies.  At least I think they would have been gorgeous,  but they were completely consumed by evil voles.  Don't have voles? Consider yourself lucky. Have an enemy? Curse them with voles.  These voles not only ate my lily bulbs, but they had dessert of the roots of my tea camellia.  I went out one day and saw the camellia looked dry. I touched it and it toppled over, no more roots. I've asked around and the horticulturalists I've spoken to say they have never heard of voles eating camellia roots.

What are voles?  These are small rodents that resemble mice and are even called "meadow mice."  They live underground, eating roots and tubers.  I even once saw a hosta moving in still air, being eaten from below by a vole.  I pulled the hosta leaves up, it had no roots and the telltale vole tunnel was there. (For a photo of a vole versus a mole: http://www.evergreenofjohnsoncity.com/Moles%20&%20Voles%20Info.htm   )

I reordered the lilies this summer and bought another tea camellia. This year, I have a plan.  As you can see by the above photos, I planted both in hardware cloth cages, surrounded by daffodil bulbs (voles hate daffodils) and sprinkled with a good heaping of mole and vole repellent.  I topped the bulb cage with a wider mesh hardware cloth, so the lily stems could easily get through (shown in the middle photo before I fixed it to the bottom of the cage with wire), though the camellia cage is not topped to allow the trunk to widen.  An third repellent I did not use is small, sharp gravel, but if I had some today.....

Happy gardening!  (By the way, this is late because I have been sick, but I am on the mend!)

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