The Hungry Herds

white-tailed_deer_5924npGOOD MORNING, DEER. Good afternoon, and evening, too. I hear them outside my windows after dark, trolling through my plantings for tasty buds.

A deer fence is back near the top of my list. The hungry herds have left me few flowers. They’ve eaten stuff they don’t touch upstate, including rugosa roses, astilbes, and evening primroses.

They’ve even munched the sweet potato vine trailing from my containers, leaving just sticks.The dappled willow I hopefully tried didn’t last, and I see my abelia is bare of buds and probably won’t flower this season like it did last. I had about four blooms this spring on the mature rhodies that were here long before I arrived in May ’09.

Please don’t tell me to use Irish Spring soap. I’d need a gross of it to fend them off.

Mere greenery is hardly the point of ornamental gardening. Still, I have a love/hate relationship with deer. They frustrate my gardening efforts, and I worry about Lyme-carrying deer ticks (I’ve only found one on myself this season, but who knows what goes on behind my back).

But I respect their wiliness and survival tactics. I’ve been reading Dominique Browning’s wonderful dropout memoir, Slow Love (and following her related blog with great pleasure). In the book, she reveals how nature and gardening — and baking muffins, and other simple country pleasures — have been a tonic for her following the stunning loss of her job as editor of House & Garden magazine. In one passage, she sees some mollusks on a rock, and briefly considers moving them out of the sun so they won’t dry out; then she realizes they “know what they’re doing.”

I figure the deer know what they’re doing, too. Lately, in this unusually dry weather, I’ve worried about their finding enough water in these streamless, pondless woods, and it crossed my mind — fleetingly — to put out bowls of water. But that would be ridiculous. I’m doing enough by providing midnight snacks.

So I’m re-thinking the deer fence question, and may go for it after my deck and bathroom are done (I’ve been gathering estimates on those and will soon make a decision).

Meanwhile, the deer remain my frenemies, and I don’t even dream of planting hydrangeas.

About cara

I blog for fun here at casaCARA, and write about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites. My recently published posts and articles can be found here: https://casacara.wordpress.com/recent-articles/
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7 Responses to The Hungry Herds

  1. Mary-Liz says:

    OH NO!!!! After all your work!! A deer fence should be a priority. Here in Rye I have a woodchuck that is eating all my phlox, rudbeckia, gomphrena & is starting on my beloved scaevola……devastating & so frustrating!!!

  2. Jay G. says:

    Love the entry. Well thought out and amusing.

    I’ve had a few problems here in upstate NY with the daylillies and the phlox, but dumped a ton of homemade deer-repellent potion on them, and it seems to have worked. There’s lots more stuff for them to munch up here and fewer animals per square mile, I imagine.

  3. Trish says:

    I feel your pain. Here in northern Virginia I had to install deer fencing around the entire perimeter of my property in order to have anything to look at, smell, eat, enjoy. Back in the 90s all the homemade remedies were tried (Irish Spring, coyote urine, human hair, etc.) and worked . . . for a while. While I would swerve to avoid hitting a deer (and had to with two fawns yesterday) I think they are pests of the first order, carrying a serious disease (Lyme’s) and without predators they pose an environmental threat to flora and other fauna.
    Since I installed the fence — voila!! veggies, flowers, shrubs again. Do it; you won’t regret it.

  4. Nancy says:

    That deer looks hungry!

  5. Quinn says:

    What a bummer! My parents live on a golf course and when they went to find a remedy for golf balls flying into their yard, they were told to buy deer netting. It’s black and fairly invisible when in place. Is this the same as deer fencing?

  6. cara says:

    hi Q, I think hungry deer in winter are more likely to break through plastic netting than stray golf balls are. What’s recommended for deer is something much heavier gauge. Properly, it should be wire, 8 feet high, and fastened down at the bottom so they can’t burrow under.

  7. cara says:

    I agree, Trish and ML, and I probably will.

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