those *&$%#* ground voles!

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I'm still digging up shrubs and protecting against ground voles, but today I discovered it's too late for 5 of my prized bottlebrushes. I was able to effortlessly pull them up - rootballs reduced to grapefruit size. I feel so sick and exasperated, but I am NOT giving up. Now I'm in the market for replacements, and I'm wondering if anybody knows where I can find more cold hardy bottlebrushes here in the midlands. I called a few places in Columbia, but I can't find anybody who stocks them. Thanks for any suggestions.

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Bummer .. It's probably too early for home depot or lowes to be carrying them .. you might want to look them up in plant files and see which ones have vendors who sell them.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I've never found cold hardy bottlebrush at Lowes or HD, Mme X. They tend to market zone 9 bottlebrush and recommend planting it in a protected microclimate. I'm going to check with the manager of my local Ace hardware garden center, where I bought several zone 8a BB's last year. I'm also going to google and call every garden center in Columbia and Florence. Just curious - do you have ground voles in Summerville?

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Yes we do .. but luckily I live in an area with lots of owls and snakes so they sorta keep them under control. I'm forever stomping down underground tunnels.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

The good old boys in the local hunting club kill every owl they see. It really sickens and enrages me. I've contacted the state wildlife commission, but I was told that w/o supplying names, they can do nothing to stop this horrific crime.


This message was edited Feb 25, 2011 12:28 PM

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Jeeze! That's awful! Do you see them do this? Take pictures and get license plate numbers if you can. Why are they killing them? Just for fun?

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I was told they kill them to protect rabbits and kitties. Their rationale is hogwash - these deer hunters aren't interested in rabbits and most of them hate cats. I live in a small community, and some of the offenders are relatives. Even if I supplied names or license numbers, it would be my word against theirs. I really try not to think about these heinous, cowardly acts, and I fervently hope that someday soon the culture of killing animals solely for thrill will end.

Summerville, SC(Zone 8a)

Ugh .. you and me both!

Garner, NC(Zone 7b)

Donna, any chance to propagate your bottlebrushes by cuttings?

Pelzer, SC(Zone 7b)

"Even if I supplied names or license numbers, it would be my word against theirs."

Much might depend on your local SCDNR. In most states, hunting or killing Birds of Prey is a crime, and that includes South Carolina. If you give them names/plates, and locations,they are likely to follow through vigorously. Even if no evidence is found, it would likely curtail the activity, just by putting the criminals on notice. I am sure it could be done anonymously. I'm sorry that your family is involved, but that doesn't really let you off the hook :(. The culture of killing animals only for (the) thrill will continue until it is stopped, it won't just go away.
There are lots of "hunters" who feel that anything that moves is fair game, and until they are confronted and punished, it will just go on the way it "always has".
I have no issue with those who hunt to eat, and do so in a responsible manner. I have BIG issues with those who are just out for a party, especially when I find the consequences/remains of the "hunt" on my land.
I report it every time, but don't know who it is. It hasn't happened this year (knock on wood).
off the soapbox :(

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Jeannie- in Irmo there are 2 places up past Woodleys (for us coming from Sumter) Native plants is one and within a mile of their nursery is another nursery (of which I can't remember the name right now) but they have the Clemson bottlebrush which is cold hardy...I'll shout at you this week when I'm back in town - I think we just need to hop in the car and get up to Irmo lol

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Catmad, a local game warden is a friend of the club. I don't know his name, but I will find out and place a call to Columbia. I just hope he isn't already aware of this practice! This crime goes on year round and it makes me physically ill. I'm afraid the slaughter will continue, because it happens in rural areas where there are no witnesses. These hunters like to sever the talons as souvenirs - incredibly grisly and indecent! I'll let you know the fallout after I contact Columbia with his name. They also kill bobcats - another beautiful predator.
Hey, red! I called lots of garden centers in Florence and Columbia - and there are several businesses in both towns that will be stocking cold hardy bottlebrush in early April - yay! I would love to go nursery hopping with you :-)
Meanwhile the voles continue to destroy my palms. I just realized that ground voles have attacked 2 large pindos in addition to my 3 tall palmettos. I stuck a hose in one tunnel opening leading beneath a dying pindo and it ran full blast for a half hour. I poured a solution of water, dishwash liquid, hot sauce, and castor oil around the affected palms and compacted the dirt by repeatedly dropping a heavy chunk of concrete around the base of each palm. (My back is killing me.) I posted a thread a couple years ago about another pindo mysteriously dying and now I realize it, too, was destroyed by voles. Last night I woke up at 3am and couldn't fall back asleep - just thinking about all my losses to voles is so heartbreaking.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

don't forget - the spring flower show in Florence and Cola first part of April - I'll be working the Cola show for my old boss who is too busy right now to run the booth so he asked if I would...why not...one way to make money and see beautiful plants...now if I can only keep my money in mah pocket!

Sorry to hear the ground voles continue to dine on your yard...I know how much time and energy you have spent, let alone money, having the yard of your dreams...call me anytime to come over and help

You going to cover anything up tonight? calling for a freeze tonight... :(

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I quickly re-covered a few bananas. That's it - if it can't survive a light freeze, fuhget about it:) How were the nurseries in Raleigh?

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

couldn't find a one, went over to the JRalston Arbo and they were open so I spent the morning perusing and taking pics...all the nurseries were 15 miles away and so well hidden that after my first attempt at google maps on one I said never mind LOL...

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I know that feeling. As I told my friend in Sarasota, who was wondering why it took me 16 hours to get back to Sumter from her place, "Grow up, I spent hours looking for nurseries off the beaten path somewhere in north central Florida."

(Zone 9a)

How was Raulston this time of year? If you get there again, the NC Farmer's Market in Raleigh has some wonderful nurseries and wasn't PD having an open house last weekend?

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

they were on Fri/Sat but not Monday...the arboretum was really nice - winter jasmine was blooming galore and it smelled like heaven...or at least what I think it should LOL Farmers Market not open - went by...the security guard was sweet and told me how to get to a nursery...but you know women and directions...I just smile alot while he explained in detail for 3 minutes how to take this road n that...

(Zone 9a)

Isn't that strange about the FM being closed, the Columbia FM is open all the time isn't it?

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

I don't know - I always go to the cola one on the weekends anyways cause it's the only time I'm free! lol

I went by the State Fairgrounds - it was they're security there that stated this time of year they were only open weekends....but i know the Flea Markets in Cola are open all the time...passed them a few weeks ago on a Wednesday and it looked pretty busy for a weekday!

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Today I dug up and toppled all 3 of my tall palmettos - they just couldn't handle the vole damage combined with Dec and Jan cold. Today was my birthday, so I'm buying 2 more soon, and I will never plant anything around them. Also, during last winter I was scattering used kitty litter around them, but it was a biodegradable product made from wheat, and I think they were attracted to the wheat! Just wondering - can palmettos be broken down with a chainsaw? I want them out of my yard asap:(

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

awww sorry I missed ur birthday girl! and doubly sorry the voles got your palms! they just aren't cutting you any slack at all....

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks for feeling my pain, red. I'm still trying to clear that darn wheat kitty litter. I'm thinking about buying 2 more palmettos from Eden's - they have some left over from last year that look really healthy with skinny trunks and decent frond growth. I wish I hadn't wasted so much $ on vole repellents, fungicides, and countless bottles of hydrogen peroxide! I'm grateful I didn't fall off the ladder while treating the palmettos. It was an expensive exercise in futility, but I learned a lot :-)

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

My cat brought me not one but two voles yesterday....left one on the floor by the bottom of the bed...I nearly jumped outta my skin until I realized it was NOT a mouse and it was dead...you may have to borrow him if he continues on... :)

Garner, NC(Zone 7b)

That cat's a treasure, Deanna! I'd take a gift like that, lol!

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Ya think he could train my incompetent felines? Last summer, when my Darla ate rat poison, I had to induce vomiting (poor kitty), but she threw up a rodent! I've been pouring a solution of dollar store onion and garlic powder, mixed w/hot sauce and dishwash liquid around plants that are obviously under ground vole attack. They keep going after my lollipopped pineapple guava trees, while other guavas are unfazed. I've noticed that my camellias, even some that were covered by vines last summer and neglected, have never been attacked by ground voles - knock on wood! My cats seem to prefer flying mammals - bats - to our underground relatives in the animal kingdom.

(Zone 9a)

I heard Peggy Jeffcoat of Singing Oaks Garden in Blythewood speak this morning at the Midlands MG Symposium, she plants garlic all over her garden and it is her opinion that while it does not eliminate voles, she thinks it does deter them somewhat.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

It makes sense that planting garlic would deter voles. I really worsened matters last winter by spreading used 100% wheat kitty litter throughout my yard. Yesterday I noticed a large oleander was almost falling over, because voles had created a huge cavern underneath it. I didn't think voles would bother poisonous plants. I dug up and protected over 30 plants last winter that were obviously under vole attack. They really went after my frost free gardenias, and, even though I dug many up and protected them, at least 6 large specimens are slowly dying. Several large pittosporums were also killed, and many palms are at risk.. So far 3 dead palmettos, and several large pindos, windmills,european fan palms, and dwarf palmettos are slowly recovering (fingers crossed) since I've been dousing them with a mixture of onion/garlic powder and hot sauce suspended in dishwash liquid and water. From now on, everything I plant will be protected. I also planted 8 split leaf philodendrons last spring and only one survived the ravenous voles. I am beyond exasperated, ardesia. Ground voles are demonic and I'm exhausted from battle fatigue.

(Zone 9a)

I remember many years ago when I lived in Columbia and visited Peggy's nursery, that she had terrible vole problems. She was growing all her plants in the ground at that time (and she may still be) so the voles were a real issue. WIth the level of problems you are having, you might want to drive up and chat with her. It is too early to see many flowers blooming but wait a month or so and you will be blown away. They are only a few minutes off 77, probably less than an hour from Sumter. Tell Deanna it is time for a road trip. :-)

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

We could at least trade war stories, and I do plan to visit a few Columbia area nurseries next month that market bottlebrush. If she's succesfully growing nursery plants w/o protection, then she has to know more about vole control than I. Thanks, ardesia!
Deanna, I know you have a lot going on, but I'd love for you to join me. All the nurseries I contacted in Cola and Flo assured me they would be getting cold hardy bottlebrush in April. I'll d-mail you when the BB's arrive, and we can check out ardesia's recommended nurseries.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

sounds great! I'll look forward to it....heading to Hilton Head for a wedding April 3rd - hoping my tax refund is here by then so I can go down a day early and check out some nurseries..

(Zone 9a)

Well, the pickin's are slim down here. You have Sunshine on the right in Bluffton as you are going towards HHI. There is a new one on the left, also in Bluffton, immediately past Home Depot, this on is almost impossible to get into, you have to go to the light on the corner turn there and quickly turn left into a driveway. My favorite is the Greenery down on the island itself. Remember these places cater to tourists and their prices are not user friendly.

Sumter, SC(Zone 8a)

Thanks Ardesia!

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