Beavers, most likely

Beavers, I suspect, are the culprits that gnawed two buttonbushes (Cephalanthus occidentalis, below) and a dappled willow (Salix integra ‘Hakuro nishiki’) to the ground this week. I haven’t seen a beaver, and it’s too swampy to get back to the farm pond to see the twig hut to confirm it, but it’s gotta be. As close as I can get, I notice that the pond has grown substantially larger, I suppose because beavers have plugged the overflow pipe. Thankfully, if the dam collapses I’m upstream, so all I have to worry about is bushes that have been severely pruned.

Several years ago, a neighbor questioned if his neighbor to the other side had chopped down a shrub that borders their properties. It was soon decided that a beaver was to blame (from a different farm pond). The neighbor “relocated” the beaver, and nothing more has been seen of beavers until the buttonbushes and willow.

I’m hoping the destruction ends here. There’s plenty of junk saplings in the swampy area between the garden and the pond, so there’s plenty of brush to build a home. And, if this is the end of it, there’s nothing to be done. Still, I cringe to think what might be next. Maybe witch hazels? The buttonbush and willow are likely to grow back, but something else might not. I will wrap a piece of chicken wire around shrubs and smaller trees in the area, and hope the beavers don’t venture further up into the garden.

Living at the outer edge of a suburban area, wildlife is not unusual. Strolling through the garden, I often walk upon a hawk that perches on low branches over our garden ponds. It seems odd that the hawk cannot sense me until I practically bump into him, but if the hawk doesn’t think I’m a threat, he’s right.

A few days ago, my wife and I were sitting in the kitchen, and even on the coldest days the shades must be up to see what’s happening in the garden. Just off the stone path, no more than forty feet from the house, sat a big red fox. He was in no hurry, and obviously was bothered by some injury to his tail, though he appeared to be in fine health otherwise. My wife and I gathered at the window, watching for ten minutes until the fox wandered off. No, we don’t see foxes everyday, and rarely this close to the house, but they’re spotted fairly regularly so it’s not a big surprise to see one.