Native Planting Undone by Native Critter

One of my projects for my little home is to incorporate native plants and simultaneously rid the property of English ivy, learning along the way and taking it slowly.

One of the first steps, last Saturday, was the purchase of two paw paw saplings,

three milkweed plants,

and three woodland pinkroot plants.

I busted my butt the rest of that day buying a garden hose (nope, had not bought one yet, at that point) and getting them all planted and watered. All night Sunday night, it also rained.

Every morning this past week, the first thing I have done as soon as it was light enough to see outside, was peer out the windows at the saplings and the milkweed. As I have been leaving for work/coming home, I have walked over and checked on the pinkroots in the front of house. I checked on the one pinkroot down by the creek bed whenever I went down there (usually daily). It was kind of humorous how much I cared about them, especially when my daughter cracked last week, “Are you planting these outside so they at least have a chance of surviving when it rains?” (I haven’t done great with houseplants inside this house yet.)

So, when I came home from work one day and walked over to check on the pinkroots, I was stopped cold when I saw that one little plant was cut at its base and had carelessly been tossed aside. How could this happen? Some kind of worm? None of the leaves had been munched. It was a mystery. I quickly checked on the other one that was nearby. It was fine.

The next day, I came home for lunch and was enjoying the beautiful weather from my front porch. Looking forlornly at the sad location, I saw a squirrel quite obviously burying an acorn in the exact spot where my poor pinkroot had been casually murdered. I was so shocked that I audibly gasped, “It was you! You meanie!” He scampered up the nearest tree. Apparently, my starting to clear away the English ivy, pulling up whole runners, and digging a hole and refilling it back with the freshly dug dirt, made an acorn stash spot that was too inviting to pass up. The squirrel’s little digging claws must have sliced through the stem. I checked on the other pinkroot. So far, it was untouched (and still is fine, as of now). Today I discovered that, unfortunately, a different squirrel (I am quite sure) apparently came to the same conclusion about the patch of loose dirt (+ pinkroot) down by the creek bed. So, two of my three woodland pinkroots did not even make it a week.

I am wondering, if I try again in the spring, if the dirt will have time to compact back to the same density as that in the surrounding area before acorn-burying season comes around again and the young transplants won’t become squirrel winter survival collateral damage. Obviously, I am not going to purchase more woodland pinkroots for sacrifice this fall.

The milkweed is not in such an inviting spot (as you can likely tell from the photo above), so hopefully will be left alone. Even though the paw paw samplings are larger in size, I am just hoping the dirt around their roots will remain undisturbed.

The whole aim of incorporating native plants was to learn to work with nature rather than against it. I guess that includes the meanie squirrels, too.

I have discovered a few volunteer asters making a brave attempt to out-compete the English ivy. I am trying to protect and nurture them along, too.