A setback for the fruit trees

A set-back for the fruit trees.

Written by Joanne Renfrey.

This tree was nibbled only part of the way around.

This tree was ringbarked, and had to be cut off below the damaged area.

There is an old saying: “What you fear is what you get”, and the fact that this saying is based on truth was brought home to us at the last working bee.

We arrived at the garden that morning to find that rabbits had stripped at least some if not all of the bark from each of the fruit trees. On some they had just nibbled little patches, on others quite large patches but not all the way around the trunk, and – sadly – on 5 of them they had completely ring-barked the whole way around.

We took immediate action to remedy the situation as much as we could. The five trees that were completely ring-barked, we cut off just below the damage. Hopefully these will shoot again, and we can then graft a new tree onto the trunk.

The remaining trees we painted with a wound-covering paint especially formulated for applying to pruning scars after pruning. This was kindly donated by one of the volunteers.

We then put some temporary guards around all the remaining trees, and sometime soon we will erect more permanent guards around them.

Because while one of us has this fear of attack of the trees, it is likely that it will happen again.

It is extremely rare for rabbits to do so much damage to fruit trees in one place, especially as there are plenty of other things in the garden, such as parsley and clover and other plants, for them to eat.

All of us there realised this; and so we discussed the possibility that one or more of us – all of us belonging to the group that is responsible for the garden – may have some issues concerning fear of something happening to the garden; a fear of attack.

When we began to discuss this, my initial thought was “It can’t be me because I spend so much time caring for the garden.”

But as the discussion went on, I was made realised that it was mostly if not all due to that very reason – that I had actually been over-caring for the garden,

From the time that we planted the fruit trees over a year ago, I had a feeling that they were probably the most important element of the garden in terms of their monetary value.

Statements such as “If nothing else I need to water the fruit trees because we have invested a lot of money in them.” were often uttered by myself.

And despite the fact that the garden was created as a self-watering system, I frequently – probably far more often than was necessary – would go there to water the trees and other plants also; but my main concern was the trees. I feared that unless I took personal action to care for them, they would not survive. I over-cared for them.

I had no real trust in the fact that with the garden having been designed to need hardly any watering, Nature/Creator would be able to look after the things we planted there.

I feel there is a reason why I was so over-protective of the fruit-trees in particular, going beyond the fact that a lot of money had been spent on them.

And I feel that the rabbits’ attack on the trees happened to help me to see that reason.

You could look at it a bit like Karma; with the organising group making a deliberate choice to work with nature, and then myself as one of that group upsetting the balance of nature because of a strong feeling that I could look after the garden better than nature could.

The Karmic consequence is that nature has shown me where I was ‘missing the mark’.

Nature, when given the best possible conditions to ‘do its thing’, is very capable of doing so.

I believe that in my head, but I now can see that I don’t yet believe that in my heart. Some soul-searching for me to do.

A partially damaged tree with temporary rabbit protection.