Oh burrrr! Oh Man, Oh burrrr! Oh, for the love it’s cold out there! And yet my pansies are blooming like it’s summer. And, likewise the dwarf mondo plants are thriving. I don’t get that. This is the first time I ever planted any of these because I don’t really like to plant flowers. I much prefer the perennials that pop up every year on their own schedule. But I’ve always admired pansies and the way they look in bed with mondos. So I figured what the heck, how long would it take to stick a bunch in the ground.
So long about early October I put in three flats of the flowers, i.e. 20 plants to a flat and 150 clumps of mondo grass. Seemed like a lot and certainly took me longer than I’d anticipated but the final display looked wonderful. And they flourished in the warm temperatures and frequent rain showers.
One morning, with coffee cup in hand, I was outside basking in the sun and the glory of happy expressions on the faces of the brilliant pansies. But the ground appeared to be rough in some spots, burrowed up, as it were. And plants were missing. I counted 5 pansies that had taken a hike and 7 or 8 of the mondos had gone with them. Where did they go? Searched high and low. So I shrugged and figured it was the damn moles undermining the very ground I walked on.
We’ve been fighting the moles for years and finally keeping them at bay, but it hasn’t been easy. So I came out with some yummy mole pellets to drop in the mounds that were all around. Confident I’d make this army of boogers sick enough to move on; I smiled to myself and walked inside.
Two days later, a dozen more flowers and mondos had disappeared. Come on! Chatting with my next-door neighbor, I learned he had spotted an armadillo in his yard nuzzling some of his posies at night. I was informed they dig around in search of grub worms (um, um, good) and use their long snout to burrow for this delicacy. Their foraging is nocturnal and I suppose they sleep with a full belly during the day. I also have to assume, based on the vast number of missing flowers in my yard, that they have a salad with their grubs.
My husband found info on the net as to how to get rid of the pesky critters. The most humane treatment was spreading good, old-fashioned mothballs around the areas they visited on a nightly basis. Armadillos don’t care for the fragrance of the mothballs, (like who does?) and go away. So between the two of us, my neighbors and I purchased 5 or 6 boxes of the balls from our local Wal-Mart…about $4 bucks a box. We scattered them heavily amongst the plants in the beds that were being molested.
Sure ‘nuf, the next day the beds had been left made. Not a sign of any more digging or munching. The mothballs dissipate over time and do look a little hoky but they were doing the job. People who came to our doors or within smelling distance of our yard did question our sanity. And we did offer facemasks to all our guests.
But then the heavy rains came and literally melted the mothballs away. So to replace them one day was to replace them the next and the next and the next. There for a while, it got to be ridiculous. And, unfortunately, armadillos don’t mind going out to dinner in the rain. So we were pretty much at their mercy and eating habits until the weather dried out. But before the dry spell, my neighbor was tempted to get a handgun and shoot the suckers. His wife squelched that solution big time.
And then he told me a funny story about an armadillo he once knew. While on a hunting trip, which included overnight campouts, the men had noticed a plated pal lurking about their campsite. A few days later there were no more sightings. One of the late arrivers to join the hunting group pulled up to the campsite one morning. He reported nearly hitting a drunken armadillo in the middle of the road. It was belly up, feet pointing at the sky (and boy do they have ugly feet) and appearing to be asleep.
Someone had taken a bottle of beer and placed it in the front paws of the now road kill. Looked pretty cool and I’d like to believe it really was passed out from too much booze and merely taking a snooze. So I got to thinkin’…why not stop with the mothballs and put full bottles of beer in the beds instead? The little beasts could pop a brew, come rain or come shine, and tie one on. They’d be too tipsy to topple the pansies.
We haven’t figured out the ratio of beers to inducing stupors in stupid critters, nor have we calculated how cost effective beer is over mothballs…but it would surely smell better. And, furthermore, who cares if an armadillo gets a hangover? They needn’t be hanging around my house, anyway.
So this year, if you do a drive-by and notice bottles of Bud around my flower beds/buds, please take time to stop and smell the roses!
From the January 2010 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette