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.
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.
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.
Sharing With Porcupines
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.
2022 Drought In Italy
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.
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
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!