At least I think it's raccoons. There's too much damage for squirrels, and the garden is fenced, so it can't be deer. I suppose it could be possums, but I'm betting on raccoons.
For the past week I've been waking up to signs of havoc near the stream. Plants not only squashed from being sat on, but buds and ends chewed off, in some cases, plants actually ripped out, roots and all, and sent floating down the stream to the end near the pump, where they float like dead plant carcasses.
Such a disheartening sight to wake up to.
They chewed the buds, just about to flower, off one of my Lobelia cardinalis, which I had planted right in the stream, knowing how much they like boggy conditions.
I had also left a couple of plants still in pots, Japanese forest grass, in the stream awaiting planting. It looks like they played a game of raccoon football with the pots. One had no plant, and no soil either in it, the empty pot was just sitting sideways in the water. The plant was several feet away, still intact, but not a single bit of soil left on its roots.
They tried to chow down on the marsh marigold, but I don't think it was to their liking.
And they keep knocking over my little rusty duck, a gift from a friend. Poor thing.
So....I pulled the Lobelia out and planted it elsewhere in the garden, somewhere I knew it would still get plenty of water. I planted the Japanese forest grass too. Cut back the damaged leaves on the marsh marigold.
I've spent the last few days thinking about how to deal with these masked marauders. I could plant poisonous bog plants in the stream. Water hemlock, anyone? But I've seen Chester chewing on some of my ornamental grasses, and while the little rascal might be smart enough to stick with grass, and not chew on poisonous plants, I don't think I want to chance it (although if it comes down to it, I might).
I could buy one of those motion-activated water sprays, but since they're already playing in the stream, I don't think they'll be deterred by more water, unless it has the force of a firehose. And a firehose wouldn't do my plants any good.
I suppose I really should be glad they seem to like spending so much time in the stream, and haven't really bothered the veggies at all. But I'm sure at some point, they will.
Anyway, I decided my first line of defense would be to use a product called Shake Away. I ordered the ones based on fox and coyote urine from Amazon, but they won't arrive for a couple more days. I hope they work. We'll see.