Squirrel in the Garden


Although the surveillance video is grainy, I know I have seen the suspect before. They show up in my backyard early in the mornings and wreak havoc. Footprints, mangled leaves and piles of dirt are left behind. Yes, it is the squirrel again.

This year instead of begonias, I decided to plant heirloom mixed flower seeds in the backyard planters. The garden centres opened up shortly after the lockdown and given the behavior I had seen in grocery stores during the previous weeks, I felt the extra outing was not worth the risk.


The heirloom seed packet promises the flowers are container-friendly. Sadly, our neighborhood squirrel is not. The squirrel digs through the planters on the ground then hangs upside down from the brick fence like a small furry acrobat and forages through the hanging baskets.

I tried inserting plastic cutlery in the planters as I had done in the past, but the squirrel would just dig around it. I tried a cayenne pepper trick and although that might lead to a day or two of respite, the squirrel would return. In desperation I put the planters up on a table and wove string around and between the plants. That lasted about a week until the string was thoroughly uncoiled.

I gave up on most of the seedlings and moved some snapdragons to the containers from the front garden. The containers were more full so the squirrel didn’t disturb them as much. Somehow, the geraniums not only survived but thrived with a bit of added soil and fertilizer.

Only two heirloom flower seedlings survived: a cornflower and coreopsis. The cornflower is planted in a geranium planter and spills over into a second. The foliage and blooms of the cornflower enhance both planters. The coreopsis is listed as being one of the rarest seeds in the pack. It adds depth to the containers with the yellow snapdragons. Despite unfavorable conditions and recurring threats, these two small flowers bloom and brighten. The color enhances the other flowers.

I reflect on annoyances during the past few months including the squirrel-like folks who do not seem to comprehend the meaning of arrows, masks or physical distancing and get in my space. I also consider unexpected things that have bloomed despite challenges: extra time with the dog, conversations with family over dinners and a house bursting with art. Despite the difficulties, I feel my true colors are coming through. I feel I have made a positive impact at home, in my studies and in my work.

Even if I can safely buy begonias, next year, I still have some heirloom seeds I can sow. Besides, my sister-in-law shared a tip on how to deter squirrels using cut-out paper plates.


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