Friday, January 18, 2013

Things I Learned While I was Away, Part I--Chipmunks Love Astrophytum

This is the first post in a series that will likely have several entries.  Quite a bit happened while I was on blog hiatus, and I did learn a few things. Some of the lessons were pleasant, and some were a little harder, like this one.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post featuring "Chippie," a Tamias striatus who lived in my front yard, and was inclined to strike cute poses on the fairy sculpture near my front porch.

Well since then, probably because we've set up some bird feeders, our property has become home to two more of the delightful creatures.  A second made its home in the side yard, and a third in the back yard. And yes, I do mean delightful.  Unlike the marauding gray squirrels, the chipmunks take a relatively modest amount of seed from the feeders, and are as cute as the dickens while doing so.

In 2011, I did notice that Chippie was partial to a plant in the Crassula family that was summering on the front porch, but I still didn't mind that much.  It was the only plant that was damaged, and I figured "What the heck, I can get another."

Chippie chowing down on a Crassula

 But last summer, the chipmunk brigade started to try my patience.  I found small bites taken out of some Echeveria and Jade Plants. But the Astrophytum plants sustained the worse damage: Front yard Chippie went after my Astrophytum asterias, side yard Chipwich found the A. ornatum to be the nom, and backyard Chipster went cuckoo for A. capricorne.

From the top: A bite out of A. ornatum; the result of the repeated ravaging of A. asterias; chewed circumferance of A. capricorne

The A. asterias was a total loss.  I found another, but I absentmindedly watered it during the darkest days of winter, and it rotted.  I've decided to hold on to the A. ornatum and the A. capricorne, despite their less than perfect appearance, and they've survived well.  And to console myself for their loss of beauty, I bought myself these: 

Astrophytum asterias 'Super kabuto' varieties in a dish with gypsum "desert roses"
I purchased them from an eBay seller in Thailand, (along with the proper phytosanitary certificate, and CITES permit.) I couldn't resist arranging them together in this shallow dish, and so far they've done fine.

From now on, every Astrophytum will be summering indoors, as I think they'll get plenty of light in the sunroom.  And I'll be keeping a close eye on anything in the Crassulaceae that I put outdoors.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Chipmunks are so cute, but well.....
Love your new babies!!! Looking good all together in their pot!