AS a gardener, Steve Woods is used to overcoming challenges ranging from floods to droughts and storms to insects.
But Steve has a whole other problem in the grounds of the Old Rectory care home in Lexden - rabbits.
Over the years, he has planted out hundreds of plants, carefully grown from seed, only to have them decimated by the greedy bunnies within 24 hours.
After trying a range of unsuccessful deterrents, he is now trying a new eco-friendly idea - human hair.
Rabbits, allegedly, are deterred by the smell so Steve is giving it a go.
He said: “We have beautiful gardens here, really lovely grounds which are an acre large.
“It is really tucked away, you think you are in the countryside.
“I have worked here since November 2010 and the gardens were a bit forlorn then.
“We are trying to help them recover but we have a problem with some long-term tenants - the rabbits.
“We have put in different plants but whenever you do, the rabbits think it’s meal time.
“I grew more than 200 marigolds from seed and they made a lovely show in the beds.
“I spent a whole day planting them out. By the next day the rabbits had eaten the lot.
“I think they text their mates when I put a new load in.”
Steve got the garden prestine for the Colchester in Bloom competition - only for the rabbits to sabotage his entry.
He said: “I put the plants in a few days before; they cost about £300. Within 24 hours, the whole lot had gone.
“I got up at 5am the morning of the competition to put in what I had left but I was embarrassed.
“All my best stuff had been eaten by the rabbits.”
Mr Woods’ tactics to beat the bunnies have included sprinkling fragrant soap over the plants but it washed away in the rain.
The new suggestion came via Colchester in Bloom chairwoman Pam Schomberg.
She had been discussing Mr Woods’ dilemma with her hairdresser, Angela Mitchell, who runs Alter Ego hair salon in North Hill, Colchester.
Angela is from Minnesota in the US where hair is commonly used as a garden deterent.
She said: “Back home, we put hair around the plant and vegetable beds to keep the rabbits and deer out of the garden.
“We have collected about 15 rubbish sacks of hair from the salon and the smell from it makes the rabbits thinks humans are there.
“It is a friendly way of deterring them.”