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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.