Seventeen years ago, when I first moved to the house, I intermixed a wonderful assortment of hosta among the shrubbery of the front foundation planting. The clumps grew and prospered, providing a welcome burst of color each summer beneath the green shade of the overhead trees. This spring, however, disaster struck; the entire planting, some thirty large clumps, entirely disappeared. Investigating, my feet sunk slightly into shallow depressions where the plants had been, with not a shoot left as testimony to their former glory. Thousands of dollars of hosta, and almost two decades of growth had simply vanished.
What happened? The nasty vole.
These herbivore rodents, similar to mice, burrow under the snow in the winter, and devour whatever tasty roots they find. Hosta, it seems, is one of their favorite treats. Now I don’t mind a little rodent damage here and there; all of god’s creatures deserve a treat now and then, and I’ve been even known to tolerate the occasional mouse in the house or stable. But this is out and out war. Next fall, I intend to put down rodent poison, carefully placed about the garden under shallow clay pots heavily weighted with several bricks – this last to prevent the stray dog or cat from accidentally consuming the surprise I have in mind for the voles. (In gardens with children, special child-proof dispensers are required.) I’ve found this method to be the only effective means to combat such a level of infestation; as the voles burrow under the ground seeking a meal, they encounter the poison, and carry it off to their burrows. Death rapidly ensues. While this is not an optimum solution – I’m slightly troubled from a karmic perspective, and I detest chemical remedies – in this case, I’m forced to fall back on my grandfather’s dictum: 10% of the garden freely surrendered to forces of God; 10% to depredations of animals; 10% to insect pests. And if anyone besides God steps over the line, whack ‘em!