Ranunculus are some of my favorite flowers and they normally start blooming at the end of March. But they are going to be late this year for several reasons. Of course, the cold 2015 winter has delayed lots of flowers including the ranunculus. But they are also temperamental (translate, difficult to grow). They stop blooming if it gets too hot and they stop growing if it gets too cold. And if they get too cold and too wet (our winter this year), the bulbs rot!
This year, only about one third of my ranunculus survived. Most of the bulbs rotted in the cold, wet soil. I ordered lots of ranunculus bulbs this year encouraged by the success of last year's crop. But what grows well one year doesn't ensure success the following year. This raised bed is normally full of ranunculus plants but all of the empty spaces represent places where the bulbs did not grow, but rotted.
Take another look at the picture of the raised bed where the ranunculus are growing. Notice the chicken wire around the edge of the bed. What you can't see is that there is chicken wire under the bed. Why chicken wire? I'm not trying to keep birds out of the bed. Nope, I'm trying to deter voles.
Voles look like large mice, but act like mice on steroids. They are fierce plant eaters and they love both ranunculus bulbs and plants. Mice nibble, voles attack and decimate. Cut leaves are strewn around; the the plants are chomped down to the ground. Look closely and you can see the missing stems on the plant in the photo. One large original leaf was left on the plant. The plant did start regrowing new leaves, but as of this date, they have been devoured also. Seeing ranunculus in bloom is a gorgeous site. Seeing ranunculus demolished is not!