Iris Provide A Buffet For Porcupines

Iris provide a buffet for porcupines
Beautiful Iris

I didn’t know when I planted them that irises provide a buffet for porcupines. Here is my story!

Iris Provide A Buffet For Porcupines

How It All Started

On my 50th birthday (almost 13 years ago at the time of writing) someone gave me 15 blue/lilac bearded iris for the garden as a gift. Over the years I have divided them and transplanted them to different places. I have written about them in my blog before.

Iris provide a buffet for porcupines
Beautiful Iris

Holly’s Garden

I grew them all around the little area that I call ‘Holly’s Garden’ as that is where my little dog is buried, and also her successor Barnie. I grew them under the fig tree behind my seat there. I have another small area where my cat Jimmy is buried and that was planted with irises too.

soothing nostalgic story
The Seat Among The Iris

Introducing New Planting Areas

As time went on I introduced iris to different areas. We have a square of concrete where I have a washing line and I put in iris all round the edge. When we had the dog run put in, a fenced area where the dogs can run free, I put iris all round the back edge of that. Then I filled the corner of a triangle of land with iris that we can see from the living room window.

Over the years, I have just kept on dividing and replanting. Occasionally someone has given me a different color iris to add to my collection. I have bought a few too. Everywhere you looked in May this year, there were banks of beautiful flowering iris. It was lovely.

sunset lighting
My Secret Iris Garden

Sharing With Porcupines

iris provide a buffet for porcupines
Tilly and Shiloh

This is where our porcupines come into the story, and the fact that iris provide a buffet for porcupines. We have a family of porcupines that live in the woods near the house. The two main adults are called Tilly and Spiky. This year they had a baby called Shiloh. Each year the porcupines have helped themselves to some of the iris rhizomes during the summer. I had planted about 100 iris around the dog run, but one year they decimated those and now there are only a few clumps left. Mostly, they would dig up a few and leave the rest.

using light as highlights
Moody Purple Iris

2022 Drought In Italy

This year has been a terrible drought here in Italy and the wild animals have been desperate for food. We have a small lake near us where they can get water but food is another matter. Each morning we have got up to more destruction and irises literally disappearing before our eyes. One morning while viewing my night camera we could see a porcupine approaching the irises that sat just in front of the camera. We could see the leaves clearly. Suddenly the leaves started violently weaving from side to side and then disappeared and we could hear the sound of the rhizome being crunched.

Another night, the porcupines seemed to delight in digging out the iris in front of the camera and then sitting in full view, munching away at the rhizomes.

A Decimated Garden

We estimate that they have eaten about 500 iris this summer. Amazing to think that is years of planting all gone in a matter of months. I managed to save about 140 or so and they are all in containers now in the cat garden, which is an enclosed area the porcupines can’t get into.

Thinking Positively

My Mum said I must be heart broken but not really! If they are hungry I am just happy they were able to find some food. Though it wasn’t my intention that my iris provide a buffet for porcupines. But, maybe it was time to have a change anyway.
sunset lighting
Magical Iris Sunset

Luckily, as an artist I have documented my beautiful irises in my photo art. Looking at the pictures full of beautiful flowers and comparing them to the barren areas now is strange. But we have the memories. And next year we will have containers full of beautiful iris to put out on display when they flower, and hide inside the enclosed garden when the porcupines are looking for a snack next summer!

Before you go

Mid-week Reflections
Dorothy and Barnet Boy

My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at

You can follow me on Facebook and Mastodon.

Thank you for reading!

About Dorothy Berry-Lound 444 Articles
I am having fun living half way up a mountain in Central Italy with my husband Barnet Boy, Stevie Mouse and the rest of my fur family. I am enjoying creating art that people will love having on their walls. I also love storytelling through my blog and short stories.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.