City of Windsor squirrel proofs its tulip stock
Rodents ate 10,000 bulbs during a mild winter and cost the city $15,000
A year ago, squirrels had gorged themselves on approximately 10,000 tulip bulbs at Windsor's Jackson Park.
The rodents ate nearly a third of the park's tulips and they couldn't be replaced in time for spring.
Squirrels cleaned out the flower beds, digging up and eating the flowers that are one of the biggest attractions in the city, especially for wedding parties, which have their photos taken in the park.
Dave Tootil, the horticulture supervisor for the City of Windsor, called it "a disaster."
"We were a little saddened when our tulip display didn't show up last year," Tootil said.
The squirrels took advantage of a mild winter and easy pickings and easily ate all winter.
The city uses blood meal to prevent squirrels from digging in their gardens until the ground freezes. But last winter was so mild the ground never froze. The blood meal, made of dried animal blood, composted, the ground was soft and the squirrels had a banquet.
"Who would have predicted a winter like that?" Tootil asked.
This year, the city took no chances. It still used blood meal, but also added a six-layer of compost to the ground covering the bulbs. Mother Nature helped a little, providing a colder, snowier winter.
"With frozen ground, hopefully it will work out well," Tootil said.
The bulbs were eventually replaced at a cost of $15,000. Normally, the bulbs are recycled.
"We learned our lesson and hopefully we won't have to go through that again," Tootil said.