Guest Column: The War of the Squirrels

Ginny Schleihauf

You may have common everyday squirrels. I do not.

I have marauding hordes that come out at night, mass between my shrubs and the porch, and set out with tiny picks, axes and diesel-powered backhoes to attack my garden.

I’ll admit, I’ve never actually seen them wearing their little hardhats and ear protectors as they plow up my garden, but I don’t need to. The daily destruction is evidence enough – plants tossed about, mulch dug deeply into the black earth and tomatoes pierced like vampire victims.

And right about now, the ripe part of autumn is when the squirrels kick into high gear. They dig furrows, foxholes, canyons … I suspect they’re starting an open-pit mining operation.

What really plagues me is “Why only the flower-beds?” Why not the lawn? Why not the boulevards? And above all, why not the neighbours’ yards? Figuring out the squirrels’ plan became my obsession.

I studied their methods.

Last year, they mobilized against my newly planted flowerbed of mainly hostas. I had planted several species, carefully positioning them among lupines and perennial geraniums. Every morning I found plants uprooted, tossed here and there on the lawn. And every morning I stuffed survivors back into the ground.

It happened so often I could do it with one hand, while holding my morning coffee in the other. I had initially planted the hostas in an elegant curve. This year they came up so higgledy-piggledy that I told a neighbour I’d never let one-eyed drunken sailors help me plant again.

But at least the hostas came back. No such luck for my annual verbenas. Out of eight multi-coloured verbenas, the squirrels chucked all the red ones back onto the sidewalk, where they died in the hot summer sun.

Out of heartbreak (or terror), two more quickly gave up the ghost. Four verbenas missing in action – and mourned.

Desperately, I searched the bookstore for relevant titles: When Gray Squirrels Happen To Good People; Men Are From Mars, Squirrels are from Satan; Who Moved My Cheese Below the Root Line?

Sadly, not one of those books yet exist. I’ll wait.

Ginny Schleihauf is chair of the Sarnia Gardeners’ Club. She can be reached at gschleihauf@cogeco.ca