Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Help from the cat--or not!

Yesterday, Jack came inside and informed me that Zoey, the neighbor's cat, had deposited a vole on our walkway. For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with voles, they are mouse-like critters that love to eat your favorite plants, especially hosta. A couple years ago, I mail-ordered an expensive hosta. It came as a single crown. A few days after planting it, I went out to check on it and there was only a round hole where my prized hosta had been. Apparently, a vole had pulled the entire crown into its tunnel. Usually they tend to eat the plant under the soil level so that your first indication that they are there is when the plant falls over. Since moving to this area, I've put them in the top spot on my garden enemy list.

So I celebrated when Jack told me there was one less vole in our garden. But, having been fooled before in identifying a vole, I went out for a look. I'm sad to say it was a shrew, rather than a vole. 
Here is a picture of the victim. It looks much like a vole, but its pointed snout is the give-away. Voles have a rounder snout.

Although I have no fondness for any rodent (including squirrels and chipmunks), I could have co-existed peacefully with this little guy in our garden. Shrews eat mostly insects, and, while they might eat both the beneficial insects  as well as those that aren't, they don't directly do damage to plants. So I was a little saddened by Zoey's gift.

But on a happier note, the victim was deposited beside a Knockout rose, on which I noticed a bud that was not turned to mush by the recent cold weather. 
With a few days of warm weather in the forecast, maybe it will have a chance to open. A rose bloom in mid-January. Who would have thought it!

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