Since we had a mini heatwave this week I took advantage of the chance to wander in the garden before the big temperature drop-off began again. Everything looked good except for the plants that I meant to cut back and clear out and never got to. I mainly wanted to be sure that the cages I put around a number of plants were all in place and securely fastened to the ground with no openings a tiny critter could crawl through.
Though I keep seeing beautiful cages on-line, like the ones directly above and below, mine are nothing more than chicken wire bent over on itself to make a cylinder and held in place in the ground with sod staples. On my garden tour I counted 28 cages of different sizes. I made a few cages the same height as the plants they're protecting but most are the full height of the wire.
That's because I now know animals will just meander on top of the snow and eat whatever they can reach. Depending on snow depth that means you can lose everything sticking above the wire cage. Yes, I learned that one the hard way. The same way I learned that a rabbit chewing a new shrub to the ground the first year or two after it's planted is often the death knell for that plant.
So now I cage newly planted things that can easily be disloged like bare root Japanese peonies that went in this fall. All the new trees and shrubs that I bought last spring at Klehm's Song Sparrow Nursery were also caged. And any dwarf shrubs that I don't want to take chances with like my mini Ginkgos or Acer palmatum 'Mikawa Yatsubusa'.
Some of the first cages I made used this stiff wire with small openings. I discovered it was harder to manipulate than chicken wire and it is more visible in the landscape. Caging plants is my least favorite garden chore but it's fun compared to discovering a favorite shrub or tree decimated and dead from hungry animals during the winter.
Do you cage any of your plants and have you got a better or easier method to suggest?