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What is eating these plants?

Hi all,

Have you any ideas about what may be eating these plants in my Uncle's garden?

The Syringa (lilac) was the first to be damaged and because it was on the lower branches at first, he assumed it must be rabbits.

Then the Ginkgo biloba and Yucca were eaten, both in the same night.

There wasn't even any traces of the Yucca leaves on the ground, so presumably they must have all been devoured.

The damage always occurs overnight.

Over the weekend, there was more damage to the Syringa, right up at waist height and above too.

Perhaps it is deer? My Uncle has never seen any deer on his land though.

The damage looks to be too extensive for it to be squirrels and they tend to be out and about in the daytime more than at night.

It must be one or the other though...image

This is the Yucca that has not been eaten. The other Yucca was the same size.

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This is the eaten Yucca...

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This is the Ginkgo, now guarded with bits of old rabbit hutch - fortunately not ring-barked, just stripped down one side, although I do worry that disease may set in.

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Photos of the Syringa to follow...

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  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298

    Deer. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • pbffpbff Posts: 433

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    The tips of some of the branches have been nipped clean off as well, almost as though with secateurs.

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  • pbffpbff Posts: 433

    Thought it must be, Dove.

    I wonder where they are?

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  • pbffpbff Posts: 433

    Any advice for the plants?

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  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298

    They'll travel quite a way ... and muntjac are quite happy living in undergrowth near human habitation.  My brother who is a farmer in a rural location has had them eating sunflower seeds from the birdfeeders in his garden by standing on their hind legs and walking around the pole with almost as good balance as a human, whereas my OH who used to work at a site right on the ringroad here in Norwich had a muntjac charge across the busy carpark in order to attack it's own reflection in the glass doors of the farm shop ... the doors were automatic so swung outwards as the deer got very close, giving him a honk on the nose ....... it ran off through the parked cars, through the hedgerow and into someone's garden. 

    However, your uncle's deer may not be muntjac ... http://www.countryfile.com/article/how-identify-where-see/british-deer-guide 

    I know Chicky has deer visiting her garden ... she may have some advice ... 

    Last edited: 15 January 2018 14:01:35

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • pbffpbff Posts: 433

    Thank you, Dove.

    I don't expect your brother anticipated deer on his bird feeders! 

    I wonder whether the seed feeder companies will start making 'deer-proof' feeders to go with their 'squirrel-proof' ones! image

    The story of your OH's encounter with a muntjac is an interesting one.

    It's amazing how bold wildlife can become once used to living amongst humans.

    I have messaged Chicky this morning.

    Thanks again.

    pbff

    Last edited: 17 January 2018 14:24:08

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  • BeefleyBeefley DevonPosts: 51

    Hi pbff

    I am in Devon (edge of Dartmoor) and we have both roe deer and rabbits in our garden. They are beautiful to look at, but a real pain.  Short of fencing off the whole garden (and it needs to be at least 6ft+), you either have to grow stuff that they don't eat (and the young ones especially will have a go at anything), or protect them. I have had to put in wire cloches/nets over some of the most seriously damaged plants, and dug some up and put them in pots against the house but I have seen a deer peering in through the window before so that probably won't work for long either.    I have heard battery powered electric fences work too, depending on how big the garden is and whether your uncle has pets/kids, etc.

    But after extensive googling, I have had some success with grated soap, specifically coal tar soap (the smelliest I could find).  I grate handfuls of the stuff and sprinkle it round the most vulnerable plants.  I expect someone will tell me I am poisoning the wildlife/soil/plants in the process, but it does seem to keep the rabbits off anyway and there is noticeably less damage for a while.

    The other tips I have come across are hanging small nets of human hair around plants (not tried that) or getting a man to pee in the garden (!).   I haven't persuaded my husband to do that yet, but once dry January is over.....

    BTW, deer damage does look like the plants have been cut with secateurs, whereas the rabbits just have a good chew.

    Best of luck!

  • pbffpbff Posts: 433

    Thank you for your kind advice Beefley.

    I will let you know how we get on.

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  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,336

    It's probably roe deer by the height of the damage on the lilac. We used to see those a lot where we lived in Bristol - they were always in the garden, particularly fond of eating flowers. Muntjac are vicious little things - they frequently attack dogs and can do serious damage too with those sharp little horns. 

    Your best bet may be a combination of security light and physical barriers  - there's info here on mesh sizes and height for fencing, depending what sort of deer are there. https://www.bds.org.uk/index.php/advice-education/deterring-deer

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 10,300

    Hi pbff - missed this one as not been round for a while

    We get roe deer, and have two solutions.  The first is to fence areas of the garden off - we chose to do this with 8 foot trellis panels. They can’t get in there (unless someone leaves the gate open image) and we grow whatever we want to.  The second is to experiment to find things they don’t eat ....mostly by trial and error, and spotting what neighbours are growing in their gardens.  The list is quite long.

    we also find that if you protect Shrubs and trees when they first go in then they lose interest once they are more established, but its a bit of a risk

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