Monday, April 27, 2009

Mole or gopher?

During each of the first several winters of the years after I bought my house I planted dozens (hundreds) of flower bulbs. All different types and colors, lovingly plopped into the ground in the front and the side flower beds. I had 4 or 5 glorious springs with massive displays of flowers that lasted a couple of months each year.

That all ended a few years ago when some burrowing pest decided to make a smorgasbord of my beds. This mole or gopher, or families of moles and gophers, must have thought they had found heaven. It (they?) devoured almost all the bulbs, dug tunnels through the flower beds and deep holes in the lawn. I wasn't happy (actually, I was livid) but also wasn't going to poison the damn thing just to keep my yard pretty. Too many neighborhood cats and dogs made a habit of wandering through my yard and I didn't want to chance killing anyone's pet.

Gopher/mole finally decided he had eaten everything tasty and moved on to greener pastures. There were a few straggly, lonely bulbs left that would shoot up a flower in the spring but I decided not plant more; why put temptation in the way of a pest? Mole/gopher and I lived in a state of peace; I stepped around the holes on the lawn and it consumed someone else's yard. Until about 2 weeks ago.

I have a "mow and blow" gardening company take care of my yards, even though they're supposed to be full service. I never see them since they come while I'm at work. The couple of times I've happened to be home I was unable to communicate with the workers since they (at least pretend to) speak no English. A few weeks ago I got fed up with the state of my yards and wrote a long letter to the owners of the service. Part of my complaints centered on the fact that they had blown away all of the topsoil in all of the flower beds. I realized they would probably ignore my letter but then one day I noticed the ground around some of my plants had been disturbed.

It looked odd and at first I thought it had been a skunk; there were what appeared to be claw marks (but skunks would have torn up the lawn too). Then I decided it must have been a small garden rake since the lines went around the plants. It appeared first in the front, then on the side, and the next week I noticed it in the back yard. Since I've been spending more time in my yard, sprucing it up for the summer, I know what should be where and how it should look and it was definitely looking different. I had to face the sad fact that the pest had returned.

I've been fixing and replacing the outside lights around the house. I went to put a new one in the ground yesterday and an entire tunnel collapsed. Crap. Then I planted a small azalea and another tunnel collapsed. Double crap. On the one hand I didn't have to dig through the very hard dry soil. On the other hand, where the heck is the soil from the tunnels being deposited? There has to a spot with mountains of dirt that I didn't see it. On the first hand, nice aeration of tightly packed dirt! Back to the other hand, there's no soil around the roots of my shrubs! I don't know what to do. Any suggestions out there in blogland?

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