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Patrick Vickery is a Scottish gardner and garden writer. This article on cheeky Hares is reprinted on these pages with his permission. To read a bit about Patrick go here.  You can visit his page at

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Garden Blether  - A Hare Blether
Illustrations this article by Louise Peacock
March 2002

By Patrick Vickery (Copyright reserved Patrick Vicery)

There's a hare in my garden and he's systematically eating my plants, not whole plants of course, bits of them, a munch here, a munch there - munch, munch, munch - as if  attending a finger buffet.

I spotted him through the kitchen window one morning.  He sat in the flower bed grinning inanely at me through a mouthful of Oriental Poppy, so I banged on the window in a most vigorous way.  We can't be having this sort of  behaviour in the garden, now can we? 
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 He looked across at me, spat out the Oriental Poppy, then moved on to my prized Lupin (Russell Mixed), unfazed by the violent hammering on the kitchen window.  He bit off the stem too - chewed the flowers to a pulp. 

 Now I was fond of that Lupin, a fine upstanding perennial it was, and one that had given me many weeks of bright colours on dreary summer days.  What a way to go?  Having survived slug attacks, strong winds and occasional battering from the family dog, only to be scoffed by a 'ruddy' hare.  I was enraged, hopping mad in fact, and so - in a 'hopping mad' sort of way - I continued with my frenzied banging on the glass.

 He cocked his head to one side, however, unconcerned, more amused than anything else, quite clearly a hare without a care in the world. 
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Then I let the dog out.  This should have done the trick, only it didn't, for the dog was clearly in no mood to tangle with a visiting hare of a comparable size and ran off to find his squeaky ball instead.  Useless, completely useless. 

So I rushed outside myself, charged straight at him in fact, 'no messing',  at which point he took off sedately in the direction of  the goat house.

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 This wasn't the end of it either, oh no, because he returns on a regular basis to haunt me and to taunt me. 

 Now - as you know - there's very little that a hare won't eat from your garden, for despite the fact that many leaflets and books have been written about the culinary preferences of hares (and rabbits for that matter) - what they will and will not eat - and some by eminent specialists in the field, they'll actually taste everything. It's simple really. Until you've tasted something, you don't know whether you like it or whether you don't, and each individual hare will have its own particular favourites (much like you or I) which is a factor often over-looked by the pest control experts.  I don't like curry, my wife does.  I enjoy 'dollops' of tomato sauce, my wife doesn't. This holds true for a hare when it comes to plants.  They don't like Buddleias, I discovered, and they don't like potato leaves either, but if enough hares take a single bite before making that decision then your plants and your vegetables are in deep trouble. 
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 My hare (and thank goodness there's only one at the moment) has eaten Brocolli, Cauliflower, Carrot Tops, Parsley (that was a surprise), Fennel (even more of a surprise), Mints, Lupins, Geums, Cerastiums, Pinks….. in fact the list is endless.  But he hasn't touched the Fuchsias or the Hostas yet. 

Why not?  Saving them for April or May, I expect, by which time I shall be fenced off.  An expensive business - this fencing off business - a nuisance too, but worth it in the long run, particularly if a laid-back hare without a care multiplies over time into more of the same.

 Now I must check through the window and see what he's up to.

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This page was updated August 8/04

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