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     It has taken me a week or so to get over the rage and kicking myself in the rear to get up the nerve to write this post. While out watering my plants, I came to the stand where my favorite satsuki azalea lives, only to find it upside-down on the ground. My heart immediately sunk. When I lifted it, I found the entire apex broken from the rest of the plant (sorry, no pictures, I was too shocked to think to take them at the time). This was a really nice cascade azalea and I had been working on it for quite some time.
     While looking around to try and discover what had caused this tragedy, there it was, not three feet from where the azalea had rested on the ground---a green pine cone. Squirrels!!! I hate those furry little bastards! They love to eat the seeds out of green pine cones (it makes a huge mess when they shuck them) and had spent several days cutting them down out of the two pine trees in my yard. I thought they were done, but apparently not. It was the pine cone that knocked the azalea from its perch. I am kicking myself in the rear in because this has happened to me before several years ago, a prominent limb on a satsuki chinzan was amputated. Also, the following year, a cone landed on the same azalea that got damaged this year, but missed the tree, just cracked the pot. The day before this current tragic event, I found a thread graft that was coming along nicely on an American Hornbeam had been severed, I chalked it up to the high winds that day from thunderstorms, I now suspect squirrels and pine cones.
     I have taken to killing them with my pellet gun and also trapping them. Here is one of the little vandals that I trapped recently.
Oh, the azalea, satsuki Tsuki no Shimo, before (just after trimming post flowers) and after the squirrel/ pine cone attack.  As you can see, the entire apex was broken out.
     I guess if there is a moral to the story, it is listen to that little voice in your head. Mine told me to move the trees until you are sure the cones are all gone. I shrugged it off and paid the price. Also, when positioning your trees for display, take a look around, is there anything that could cause them damage? One last note, trees are coming down next spring,