In the spring I sowed some stock seeds (Matthiola incana) in a seed tray in our utility room. The utility room tends to be the only room in our house which maintains a constant temperature so I have found it useful for germinating seeds. Once they had germinated, I moved them into the conservatory which has more light and some heating. There, with tlc, the heat of the warming sun and light from the lengthening days, I grew the seedlings on into small plants. When I thought that the weather was warm enough, I moved the plants into our unheated greenhouse until they were ready to go out into the garden. About June, I planted out the most advanced of the stock plants in the garden. Within two days, all of the flower heads had disappeared. At the time a family of rabbits were regular visitors to our garden and I reckoned that they had eaten the flowers. The only other plant that had been affected was a red pelargonium and as this had never happened before and we had not been bothered by rabbits before, I though that it was only reasonable to assume that the rabbits were the culprits. I lifted the stock plants and put them back in the greenhouse in the hope that they would recover. In the meantime, I did some research, on the Internet, on the sort of garden plants that rabbits do not like. Luckily most of the plants in our garden are plants that rabbits tend to avoid. So I planted the remaining stock plants amongst plants which rabbits avoid and the plants kept their flowers. Thinking that I had the situation under control, I put back into the garden the stock plants that I had lifted, watched them carefully and they were doing alright, although I would not say that they were flourishing.
A few weeks ago, late one afternoon I heard what sounded like several shots from a gun and thought that maybe one of the local farmers had decided to have rabbit stew for his supper. Since that afternoon until this weekend I had not seen a rabbit in our garden. But now the rabbits are back and my stock plants have lost their flowers again.