Elmer Fudd … without the Rifle

The following story is taken from Untangled: Straight Talk from Passionate Gardeners, a collection of stories and tips published this past spring by the Extension Master Gardeners of Johnson County, Kansas. Our publication team contacted (nagged?) our members for months to get their gardening advice. If you garden in the Midwest, I hope you’ll check it out.


My college-aged daughter told me recently that when she was young she found it strange that I loved bees and hated rabbits. The stinging insects she feared I saw as vital pollinators, and the furry rodents she loved I saw as plant-destroying foragers. I spend lots of energy every spring either cursing rabbits or erecting barriers to keep them from my tender plants. So, few would expect me to write an ode to rabbits. But one time, years ago, their incessant gnawing turned out to be an effective pruning technique.

That spring I had a patch of bachelor buttons that had reseeded from the previous year. The plants were several inches high when I went to bed one night and ¼-inch high when I awoke the next morning. Somehow they survived the assault and again shot up several inches. Again the rabbits nibbled them to the ground. Undaunted, the plants continued to grow, and by then the critters had graciously moved on to other garden pleasures. Within a few weeks the plants were fuller and stronger than they had ever been and yielded a bumper crop of perky blue cornflowers that summer.


  1. What an insightful daughter you have!

  2. I saw bachelor buttons along the roadside this weekend and thought of you.

  3. We all have rabbits nibbling on us. Still we can grow.