Getting squirrelly? Go snakey.

Fake cobra snake

Can a faux cobra guarantee a bed full of blooms next year?

What’s likely to happen after you’ve put in all that effort to plant your fall tulips? Get a beautiful patch of blooms next spring?


If you live in Southern Ontario, the chances of them making it through the first 48 hours in the ground without squirrels getting to them is pretty slim. I’ve had so many bulbs pulled up, half gnawed or simply stolen by those pesky critters that I’d almost given up planting tulips or just about any other bulb except for daffodils. They hate daffodils.

But a gardener cannot live by daffs alone. And Mr. Nuts-To-You is not going to get the better of me. So when award-winning horticulturalist Frank Kershaw, as host of a tour in two private gardens on behalf of the Toronto Botanical Gardens, said he knew a trick or two for foiling our furry friends, I was all ears.

The Shake And Bake Trick

The first trick is simple and makes a lot of sense. You’ve probably already heard that sprinkling some blood meal on the ground after you’ve planted your bulbs help keep squirrels away. Evidently, they don’t like the scent. But there’s a small problem. As soon as it rains, the fertilizer gets washed away or sinks into the soil and you have to run out and apply more of the stuff.

Squirrel on sculpture

My vintage garden gnome doesn’t get much respect, either.

So Frank suggested adding a quick extra step before you plant your bulbs. Just dip them really quickly into a bucket of water. Don’t soak them–just in and out in a second. Then roll the wetted bulb in a saucer of the blood meal or shake it around in a plastic sack with some of the fertilizer kinda like you’d coat a chicken breast with a crunchy topping. Then pop them into the ground.

The Snake In The Grass

The second trick was pretty evident the minute you walked into his back garden. There was a couple of enormous blow-up cobras placed strategically in the grass near one of his flower beds. He says they really do scare the squirrels. But you have to move the snakes every day. Just one quick adjustment to another part of the lawn or flower bed is just enough, says Frank, to give squirrels pause.

I rushed home and tried the Shake/Bake method. The next day…

…the bulbs were all pulled up and out of the ground. But the good news was that they weren’t eaten or stolen. Just, um, examined, I guess. So I pushed them back into the ground and they’ve stayed there untouched ever since.

Next weekend, I’m going snake shopping.

2 thoughts on “Getting squirrelly? Go snakey.

  1. Pingback: Crash course in garden design | Rhymes with Linnaeus

  2. Pingback: Back away from the coneflowers | Rhymes with Linnaeus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s