Invasion of the Plant Snatchers
Yesterday I experienced the season’s first official deer invasion, with two adults, two teenagers, and two babies making themselves right at home in my back yard. It had to happen sooner or later; deer are a year-round presence in my neighborhood, and fall is when they tend to be out and about as a family. Six at one time is nothing unusual. I shooed them away before they could damage what’s left of the euonymus, although I really wouldn’t have cared if they ate it all. Help yourselves. God created euonymus to keep deer away from camellias.
Nevertheless, another round of Deer-Off is probably in order. Oh yes – and the dog needs a haircut too. I have no idea if my haphazard attempts at deer deterrence are doing any good, but my guess is that they help a little, since my camellia was still there the last time I looked (although that was an hour ago).
I am well aware that my anti-deer regimen could use a little work. Other than dog hair and Deer-Off, it consists exclusively of regular visits to the back yard with Schmoogie, the aforementioned dog. He’s a poor excuse for a terrier, but the deer don’t know that, and I like to think our patrols make them a bit less inclined to trespass. In any case, there’s no getting rid of them (fences are not an option), so I try not to get too invested in the outcome. Which, by the way, is easier said than done.
At least I’m not a weekend gardener, like my friend Elaine. On Fridays, Elaine drives 2 ½ hours from her apartment in Manhattan to her house in the country in upstate New York, where deer quite possibly outnumber people and groundhogs eat what deer leave behind. Like me, Elaine is a bit of a galloping horse gardener. She has to be, since she has absolutely no control over what happens during the five days her garden is unattended. It must be hard to pull up on a Friday night and find that half your plants have been eaten. But she doesn’t let it get to her. She is the Zen Master of galloping horse gardeners.
Elaine’s beautiful garden is the second of this blog’s guest gardens, and you can read her account of her triumphs and tragedies here, in The Hazards of Country Life. She calls her garden pseudo-English; I call it Darwinian – its design principle is survival of the fittest. I particularly like the hazmat suit she dons to work in the yard.
Deer, groundhogs, poison ivy, Lyme disease – is it worth it? Of course it is.
I do love Deer Off! Everything in my front garden is pretty deer proof, except my one stand of lilies, and I get mighty territorial about that one little stand of lilies when they start budding! If I don't spray Deer Off then regularly, the blooms will be goners. I've heard of a new spray called I Must Garden that is supposed to last longer and smell better than Deer Off - I really have to try that next year!
11/15/2012 12:31:57 pm
I've heard I Must Garden smells even worse, if you can believe it...
11/15/2012 11:56:13 pm
Yes. The only problem is that, eventually, they run out of your buffer plants and move on to your prized possessions.
11/15/2012 11:59:27 pm
Although if I remember your recent post on rodents, you have your own garden invaders to contend with! The picture captured Schmoogie at a soulful moment, but he has a goofy side too, believe me.
11/15/2012 08:56:30 pm
I love the picture of your dog and loved seeing (and reading about) Elaine's garden. Not sure how close her house is to Cooperstown, but I remember the beautiful gardens I saw there.
11/16/2012 12:01:31 am
Elaine's house is just a few hours from Cooperstown. Both her area and Cooperstown are some of the most beautiful places in the country, I think.
11/16/2012 04:21:33 am
I have to admit I've come to think of the deer as animated garden ornaments. They're pretty, and they're here whether I want them or not, so I might as well enjoy them!
11/16/2012 05:10:28 am
They are pretty, it's true. And they are just doing what their genes are telling them to do, so it's hard to blame them. I guess you could view the deer as your garden helpers - they prune your rose bushes free of charge.
11/17/2012 06:04:58 am
I also saw the family of five a week ago. Love the picture of Schmoogie - he is a star!
11/18/2012 12:57:01 am
I'm hoping someone will sign Schmoogie up for the movies, so he can pay for my plant purchasing habit.
11/18/2012 12:58:13 am
So your garden is basically a deer bed and breakfast?
11/21/2012 12:42:55 pm
I suspect your daily walks around the garden with cutie Schmoogie do help. As soon as I leave my Maine garden to go back to Pennsylvania for the beginning of school in August, the deer move in and start browsing. When I'm here, though, they mostly stay away as long as I walk around each day and leave my scent everywhere. I have a variegated Euonymus that is still pretty much the same size that it was when I planted it 10 years ago due to the deer browsing on it from fall-spring. I don't mind if they eat all the hostas in the fall; but last year, they ate my new "deer-resistant" (Ha!) Viburnum almost down to the ground. This year, I've put a cage around the Viburnum to protect it.
11/22/2012 01:15:08 am
I agree. The key is to protect it until it gets big enough for the deer to chomp to their hearts' content without it showing all that much.
11/25/2012 08:46:15 am
Nice to find your blog today. Here it is the last day of deer hunting season - thank goodness. They ares such a beautiful animal. NIce to see your photo. Jack
11/25/2012 09:30:45 am
Thanks so much. I know what you mean. I don't want them in my garden but I don't want to hurt them either.
11/27/2012 12:57:35 am
I have also heard that deer preferences vary from place to place and are subject to change, depending on how hungry they are. Thanks for commenting - it gave me an opportunity to discover your blog.
11/29/2012 12:56:31 pm
Really enjoyed this post about deer. Last year they ate every single leaf from our euonymus and I thought it was gone. In the spring, it came back with even more vigor, they are wonderful garden pruners! We have herds of them. :( I enjoyed every comment on this post as well. I'm following you!
11/29/2012 11:46:17 pm
Thank you so much! I'm enjoying your blog as well. You live in a beautiful area. As part of my college geology class (which I took for my science requirement), I had to spend a week in Hazleton, PA doing field work. I nearly failed geology, but the scenery sure was pretty!
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The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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