Run, rab­bit, run

Toby’s fluffy new friends are mad about his green­house – prompt­ing some creative mea­sures with gar­den tools

Amateur Gardening - - Toby Buckland -

MUCH of my ca­reer has fol­lowed in the Welling­ton boot steps of Beatrix Pot­ter’s Mr Mc­Gre­gor – chas­ing rab­bits out of the veg patch. Now, thanks to my daugh­ter’s new pets, I’ve spent the last week try­ing to keep my once fur­ry­foes in­side a des­ig­nated gar­den space.

Al­though rab­bits aren’t the bright­est buns in the cakeshop win­dow, they have ex­cel­lent mem­o­ries. Try­ing to keep them penned in­side their run has been a chal­lenge, due the fact that dur­ing their first dar­ing es­cape – min­utes af­ter they ar­rived from the pet shop – they found a nar­row space be­hind the green­house and they have spent ev­ery wak­ing mo­ment since try­ing to get back there.

Maybe there’s some car­rots or home­bur­rowed beer stashed there? From the guilty glint in their doe-eyes and the ex­ploratory ex­ca­va­tions in the cor­ner clos­est to the green­house, I know they are hatch­ing a plan to break out again.

“I know they are hatch­ing a plan to break out”

Whether you’re keep­ing rab­bits in or out, chicken wire is the first line of de­fence. This needs holes no larger than 1in (2½cm), and should be at least

28in (70cm) tall on the flat and over

35in (90cm) where the ground slopes. Rab­bits just love a slope – much like Olympic high jumpers, they ap­proach the wire from the side and use the higher ground to Fos­bury Flop over the top.

Be­cause rab­bits tend to bur­row right up next to what­ever they want to get un­der, a 6in (15cm) strip of chicken wire that is bent ‘rab­bit-side’ of the fence and wired to it fools the bun­sters into think­ing the ground is in­ac­ces­si­ble.

I say ‘tend’ be­cause, de­spite the flap, my rab­bit-re­spon­si­bil­i­ties have es­caped twice – they clearly re­mem­ber that there’s a route to the Shangri-La be­hind the green­house there some­where.

All they need do is dig and scrape for long enough and, just like Alice’s tun­nel to Won­der­land, it will ap­pear be­fore their whiskers.

And that’s where my col­lec­tion of old and bro­ken gar­den forks has come up in… well, spades! Their days of dig­ging might be be­hind them but, when pushed into the soil, they pin the mesh in place and cre­ate an im­pen­e­tra­ble portcullis.

Car­rots-crossed, my bunny pals never learn to make a lad­der…

Make sure you aren’t tan­ta­lis­ing bun­nies with easy es­cape routes! Chicken wire is ideal for a bunny run

Old gar­den forks help to pin mesh fences in place

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