Hosta Holocaust

Mixed Hosta Display

This is what a healthy hosta border looks like. Add voles, subtract hosta.

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!



Hosta Holocaust — 6 Comments

  1. Pretty nice post. I just came across your site and wanted to say
    that I’ve really liked reading your blog posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  2. Voles are a problem and this past winter I lost perhaps 30 mature hostas. I know the feeling. We always use two foot sections of 2″ PVC pipe filled with a cup of D-con. We place the pieces of pipe throughout the garden in late October and check them again before the snow deepens in November. At that time some need to be filled again.

    The advantage of the D-con is that the voles cannot carry a piece of bait some place else where a child or animal might find it come spring. The pipe keeps the product dry and the plants are there in the spring. The catch is that you have to remember to place the pipes and I was too busy moving to a new nursery to put down the PVC at our old display garden.

    Voles don’t hibernate and I have even lost a very old William Baffin rugosa rose to them. I detest chemicals but there comes a time when the challenge requires different action.

    Best Gardening Wishes!

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener
    Vermont Flower Farm

  3. ACK!! The deer are killing mine this year. Eating them down to a nub. Wishing you the best in your battle. Found your blog on Blotanical..

  4. Yes, Blotanical is a great site. Deer and hosta are unfortunately a desperate combination, requiring the complete separation, or annihilation, of one or the other…

  5. George: that’s a great idea that I may just adopt. I liked your blog too. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I depend on some of those pantls too. We have very dry shade here, on the Island, so it’s always a challenge. Everything competes with the cedars. I keep trying to find the perfect spot for a bit of ladies’ mantel.Love the different textures in this mosaic.

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