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Thanks for stopping by! Until next time over at Wordpress........ http://anartistsgarden.wordpress.com/
Living in a forested area we see a lot of wildlife. A lot. My garden is a buffet for deer and rabbits, while turkeys and grouse displace my evenly placed bark (not to mention plants!) to make nests; and squirrels plant unwanted trees for me. Pesky rodents are another topic entirely, so I won’t even go there! Coyotes, bobcats, cougars, bear, and lynx have trampled through, not paying any attention to what they were trampling.
I love seeing our surrounding wildlife, but do so hate sharing my garden with their destructive tendencies. Our first few years here, we had no problems because we had no garden. Loved seeing all creatures back then and even tried enticing them! The turkeys come through every year in droves, usually 5 or 6 hens with at least a dozen chicks each and a few males that my husband likes to ‘gobble’ at to raise their tail feathers. Now when I see them I start putting up barriers so they won’t dig up my plants in their hunt for bugs, slugs and ‘dirt bathing’.
The deer in my neighborhood come here for midnight forrays at the dessert cart...aka my roses & hostas. They’ve nibbled many a plant to the ground including but not limited to... heuchera, tiarella, mountain laurel, bay laurel, sedum, strawberries, bergenia and all the leaves off the lower branches of sumac, cedar, and elderberry.....AND plants they’re not supposed to like such as rhodies & iris! Holly & barberry! Don’t they know they’re not supposed to like prickly leaved plants? They’ve actually joined me in the garden midday, thumbing their noses while munching elderberries right in front of me! At least my deer will run away when I run towards them. My friend on Whidbey Island has deer that look her right in the eye and will not leave! We call them Psycho Deer! One actually chased her out of her own garden!
I’ve waged war ... Serious war... For many years now, trying every home remedy ever given me as well as spending big bucks on everything except a fence. Call me crazy, but don’t fence me in. Let me tell you about what works and what doesn’t to keep the deer at bay. At least in my garden, your mileage may vary. Over the last 20 or so years, these are some of the more memorable remedies I’ve tried ~ myths that are still being perpetuated ~ as well as those those that actually worked for me.
-Interspersing plants deer don’t eat between those they do. Get real! Deer always find the plants they like to eat AND start eating those they’re not supposed to! So much for that one! Next!
-Hair. Human hair, dog hair, cat hair, monkey hair (don’t ask!). None of these worked at all. Or maybe just slowed the deer a tiny bit as they had to manuever past the hair to get to the foliage. On to the next remedy...
-Blood meal. This works, but PLEASE only apply at night after the hornets have gone to sleep! Ask me how I know this!! If you don’t dig it into the soil, the hornets will find it in the morning and consume it before it can scare the deer away. Waste of money and time if you don’t dig it in unless you’re into feeding hornets. It IS a great soil amendment, but once dug in, the deer don’t seem to notice it after the first day or so. Next....
-Urine. Yes, I made my husband pee around the perimeter of my garden. I made my dog pee the perimeter of my garden. Neither worked! Thank God we don’t have any close neighbors. I picked up dog poo and placed it strategically around my garden. Didn’t deter deer, attracted flies and stank! I’ve heard Zoo Poo (some zoos allow you to come pick up their poo to use as compost in your garden) works because it’s a more powerful aroma and scares the deer on a deeper level but after dog poo permeating the air I don’t want something stronger if I have to smell it too. Anyway, so much for ‘marking territory’! On to the next.....
OK, I was finally ready to start spending some serious money to save my garden. By now I have invested thousands of dollars, thousands of hours, and I cannot tell you how much sweat, blood, tears, not to mention my aching back and hands in my garden!
-What started me down the commercial path was an organic fertilizer that smelled like fish I tried about 10 years ago. Bio Mera? Made by an Oregon company, when I started using it I noticed my plants were not just growing, but were THRIVING. My garden always smelled like the ocean after I applied it, which I kind of liked! It occured to me my plants were looking so good not just because I was fertilizing with really good organic fertilizer, but because the deer weren't ravishing them! I deduced the deer must not like the smell of the ocean...or fish...a lightbulb moment! I used this with great success for 2 or 3 years until the formula seemed to change. One year it was no longer as ‘fragrant’, didn’t exactly look the same; and the deer began applauding my efforts to feed them juicier, tastier plants by coming by more often.
-Deer Away was a commercial product I tried, advertised as a deer repellent, but didn’t work for me. Same with Plantskydd.
-Another product on the market for awhile, I believe was called Repel. Basically it was blood meal in a can with a filter inserted. This worked for two seasons, but I had little cans on wire sticks or hung from wires in trees all over the place. After awhile they became part of the landscape and I didn’t notice them anymore, but everyone who visited my garden did & asked me about them. Eventually the cans ran out of blood meal & I haven’t seen them advertised lately.
-Finally I tried Liquid Fence. Very expensive, but this was my last resort and it works. Stinks up the place like nothing else & my husband leaves for the day when I announce it’s spray day! The smell dissapates after a day but deer continue to be repelled by it until plants sprout new growth. It also repels rabbits! I’ve used this with great success for the last 3 years. My hostas are thriving, I have roses again & everything else is growing as it should without molestation! Of course, in order for it to work, I have to spray once a week at the start of the season (when my plants start to grow), for 2 to 3 weeks, then I can get away with monthly applications until the deer are desperate, about mid to end of August. At that point I simply apply as frequently as I need to until it's time for the plants to go dormant anyway or we have our first freeze.
My friend Judy had her husband build a couple robots. With motion detectors. She said they worked beautifully. Her 'bots' spooked the deer by moving and making noise when motion (deer) was detected. The next season, she put in an electric fence. Guess the noise & all that nightly motion detracted from their sleep. My husband looked at me and asked ‘Do you reallly want me to build you a robot?’ as I excitedly told him what Bill had made for Judy’s garden. Knowing that look and that tone of voice, I laughed and said of course not! You know the phrase “pick your battles”...well at my house, it’s “pick your requests”!
Do you have a remedy that works? Or Doesn’t, but you’d like to share so the rest of us don’t have to try it? Please enlighten us by leaving a comment for everyone to read! And thanks for stopping by! Until next time.......
Have I mentioned rocks? Digging them? My garden was a serious rock pile before I began excavating. To give you an example, today I planted 2 new plants, an alstromeria & a ‘Silver Mound’ wormwood in a section I haven’t conquered yet. We’re keeping it open to get our truck in & out but I’ve wanted to ‘decorate’, so started filling in the edges. See the pile of rocks in front of the plants? All those rocks came out of the 2 holes I dug for these (count ‘em) 2 new plants. Notice the rock wall with a built in lily bed behind the new plants? All those rocks were also removed from my soil. By me. One at a time. Over a seriously long time! I think I’m winning the battle at this point, which is a good thing because I’m too old to wrestle rocks anymore!!
The cement birdbath on the left is one I made several years ago and you’ll probably see other garden art I’ve done as we go along. You’ll also see a variety of birdbaths, the better to entice more birds who will eat bad bugs so I don’t have to use chemical sprays. I was surprised at the bravery of these two Siskins enjoying a bath so close to me while I photographed my morning’s work!
Last fall and this spring I’ve been reworking another area, that formerly housed all my herbs. It was also my ‘holding bed’ because I would store new plants there that I didn’t know exactly where to plant. To get them into the ground somewhere, I’d plant them here until I could figure it out; and in no particular order so it was quite wild.
A well respected & award winning garden designer, Marion McNew of Mount Hood Gardens agreed to visit my garden for a consult but there was a long waiting list. When it was finally my turn in her busy schedule, she focused on this particular area that was overun with herbs, orphan plants and weeds with a suggestion of tall grasses to close off a ‘garden room’ including a seating area. The grasses would be great wind protection and would provide a closed intimate setting. I liked the idea & began the chore of moving all the plants out of my way so I’d have a clean canvas to work with. It took all summer and into the fall. What to do with all those plants. I was finally forced into deciding where to put those I truly loved, potted up those I wasn’t sure about and overwintered; and the rest I stoicly dumped into the compost. I hate throwing away plants, but you reach a point past obsession & have to clear them away.
Since this area had already been planted, I didn’t have to do much for soil prep. In fact, it was really fun to design the area as a clean slate without having to dig any rocks! I started with the grasses Marion suggested then chose what I wanted to see behind them ~ peonies with daylilies and Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) anchoring the corners. Peonies are also interspersed along the sides of this new ‘garden room’ with a couple varieties of red hot poker (Kniphofia), maltese cross (Lychnis), and a few other perennials that have a tropical feel in my NW garden. I love tropical plants, but am a couple zones too cold to have any. Next to the Joe Pye corners, I placed a Cornus mas varigata on one side and a Cercis canadensis on the other, which will eventually form the structure when they mature. Repeating the grassy shapes I added some Crocosmia, ‘Lucifer’. Daffodils, crocus, and grape hyacinths are the spring bloomers and I have some miniature bearded iris yet to plant. Oh, and the little blue flowers that reseed everywhere for me are Love in a Mist (Nigella). Oops I left the flags in from last fall to mark where the grasses were planted so I'd know if I lost any. A habit I began a few years back when I couldn't remember what I planted or where it was!
My husband built & painted the andirondack chairs in his shop you can see just behind this new area; & I am still in the process of making the glass pavers leading into it. You can see the first few pavers I made as a test to be sure they’d turn out as desired. An inch thick & 8” square. I can only make four at a time, so it’ll take me awhile to make the entire path as they take a couple days to cool down (anneal) in my kilns. You can read more about them here if you'd like.
And of course, you’ll note the rocks outlining all my paths. Guess where they came from! Thanks for stopping by! Next time I’ll tell you about my long-running feud with deer.
After the first year of pretty good tulip & lily blooms, in spite of rodents, cold temperatures, and zone illiteracy taking some bulbs, I knew I’d have to reach beyond lilies and tulips. I discovered the world of iris....
Incredible beauty to behold and if you look closely you can see a Georgia O'Keeffe painting in every flower.
Oh how I wanted to paint those beautiful frilly iris with their anthers standing tall amidst the shimmery stigmatic lips. Before I could paint, I was going to have to get them ordered and planted...back to the catalogs and lists! Oh what exquisitely captivating picturesI poured over in Schreiners Gardens catalog. Towards the back of the catalog they had ‘collections’ where I’d save half the cost by purchasing a set collection. OK! If I save half the cost I can buy twice as much!! They were speaking my language!! Having learned my lesson the year before, I stuck to just one catalog so I wouldn’t be surprised at how many bulbs arrived for me to plant during the onset of cold weather.
I actually read up on iris culture, learning they liked a sunny location with good drainage. I chose my sunny south slope where I’d have to remove a bit of lawn and hoped the rocks had already been cleared out. No such luck! Either the sod was placed right over the rocks, or the earth was spewing rocks up from it’s center. I later came to believe the latter, as new rocks emerge from just under the soil's surface each year all over my garden.
Have you ever removed sod? In the sun? On a hot dry day? It’s the stuff nightmares are made of! We rented a machine that cut through the sod, ran the machine in rows, then rolled up each row of cut sod, digging up the roots as we rolled.
There they sat, waiting for one of us to regain our energy and carry the rolls of sod over the hillside. Where we left them to compost for years and years and years.
Let’s see, iris need a foot of space and I have about a hundred ordered, so my next task was to start digging out rocks. And digging.... Amending, this time with chicken manure and bone meal along with the sand because I’d been told both would help the iris generate larger blooms and stronger stalks. You know the rest by now....dig, pull out rocks, dig more, pull out more rocks and finally amend the soil. Eventually I had a lovely bed into which I could plant my soon-to-arrive new beauties for the garden.
Over the years my collection of iris grew and I ordered from many catalogs. I met a delightful pair of iris breeders, Paul Black and Thomas Johnson of Mid-America Garden. Paul and Thomas are award winning breeders and to this day I love visiting their garden to spend time with them. Not only have they filled my iris beds, but they taught me how to BREED my own iris!!! I could have my own iris CHILDREN!! Each pairing produced 20 to 40 seeds & I planted them all until one day I finally ran out of room. In the sun, anyway, I still had a forest of shady area. As my collection grew and grew ... and grew, I had to dig out more and more lawn. After about 15 years, I ended up with just over 500 named iris varieties plus all the seedlings I had bred. One day, not too long ago, I was too tired to play in the iris beds anymore. Every year I had faithfully dug up, divided, and replanted. I couldn't throw away my extras, so I took them to a farmers market and sold them. It was now time to start seriously withdrawing. As my iris bloom today, they must make me fall on my knees with delight at the color, the shape, the exquisite beauty and form. If they don’t, then I ruthlessly dig out and dump into the compost pile unless any neighbors come by, willing to pick up the departed!!
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.....
My garden really started after going to Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC. I was so inspired! I came home & dug in. Literally. My soil is hard clay and rock. Horrible stuff to dig through, but with a pick ax and sheer force of will, I dug through it, pulled out all the rocks, dug some more and pulled out more rocks. I must live in the center of the rock universe! Finally deep enough I decided, the soil was amended with sand (remember, I didn’t know better at the time) and I was ready to plant.
I had just discovered bulb catalogs and poured over my stack listing all the flowers I wanted, then crossing some off to get the price back within my budget. In the next catalog, I’d find more that I really couldn’t live without & have to cross some off again. Endlessly. The lilies and tulips in the catalogs were glorious colors and the beautiful photos were exactly how I wanted my garden to look. So I began ordering. Tulips. Lilies. Lilies. Tulips. More. More. And more. I thought about getting a second job.
While waiting for the arrival of my lilies and tulips, I set about building my first ‘bulb bed’. Some of the rocks I had dug up were perfect for framing a raised bed, and I had read that bulbs liked good drainage. It’s true, about this time I started reading and studying how to grow a garden in the form of books and catalogs! The rocks were about a foot in diameter and were as heavy as they looked.
Formal is not my style, so I used a garden hose to create an organic shape and placed the rocks around the hose. I wanted the rock border around my bulb bed to be as colorful as the new tulips and lilies would be, knowing that I’d have no color after the flowers faded. My favorite color combination at the time was pink and purple, so using outdoor house paint, I alternated those colors, infusing the rocks with a bright aura. My husband put on his sunglasses each time he looked in that direction! A visiting neighbor suggested I tone it down...huh??? What did they know? It was magnificent!!
As the bulbs began arriving that fall I started to plant. And plant. And plant. My back ached at the end of each day, but I was determined to have a lush garden the following year and I didn’t want to waste my money by not planting all that I had ordered. I ran out of room in the bulb bed, so planted anywhere I could get a shovel into the ground with as little effort as possible. Eventually they were all in the ground and just in the nick of time as the temperature was dipping below where I was comfortable planting.
Yet another thing I didn’t know was that not everything in the catalogs was a lily or a tulip. Or that it might not survive my z5 winters. Or that rodents liked to eat them. The following spring when I had a nice display, but not exactly what I’d envisioned, I realized I’d better start reading the text more carefully & not just looking at the beautiful ENLARGED pictures!
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time.....