Friday, November 4, 2016

Garden Demolition Team--Deer Damage Edition

When we lived in Orlando, the squirrels and I were almost always at war. The battles never ended in any casualties (unless I count my pride), but we were always trying to outsmart each other. Those squirrels were downright cunning, and though I thought I was, too, I had to wave the white flag of surrender in the end.

On our new property, squirrels aren't much of a problem. Of course, the property is massive in comparison to our small Orlando plot of land, so perhaps I simply don't see the impacts as much. Even though the larger property would seem to harbor far more critters capable of damaging things, the only trouble I had initially was with a certain chipmunk who seemed to have an affinity for Lily of the Valley bulbs. There's also been an armadillo problem, but since it was always rooting around the lawn, that was more of Turfman's aggravation.

In the last couple of months, however, things have taken an ugly turn. It all began with a seemingly ravenous rabbit (identified by certain "gifts" left behind) who treated my vegetable garden like it was his personal all-you-can-eat buffet. First he took every leaf off of my bean plants. Once those were completely destroyed, he was lucky enough to discover my sweet potato plants. Again, he removed every leaf and added the flowers to his diet. Annoyed but unimpressed, I covered the sweet potatoes with chicken wire. Goodbye, rabbit.

The last month has ushered in a new destructive force, and to identify it, dear readers, all you have to do is think of what rhymes with foe (but it's likely I'm not just dealing with the females).

I'm not sure why I haven't had too many issues with deer previously. They've always roamed our property in the mornings. The worst they've done up to now has been to prune one of my plum trees (and yes, the pun is most certainly intended). I stuck a pinwheel in the tree, and I haven't had a problem since. But now they are destroying my front garden, and along with it, my hopes and dreams for so many plants I've nurtured from seed.

First they stripped the leaves from two branches of my Philadelphus (mock orange). I reassured myself that it is virtually a weed and should easily recover. Then I saw they had ravaged my David Austin 'Olivia' rose. That's when I felt the first spark of hate ignite in my belly. Then came the hollyhock. Then (surprisingly), the Salvias. On they went, methodically working their way through Rudbeckia and the tree form Hydrangea, stoking my anger fire. I cut pieces of chicken wire to defend my precious, damaged plants.

Okay, they've left half of the Philadelphus
so far

I thought the Rudbeckia triloba was a goner, but it's sprouting
new leaves at the base

What's left of my 'Becky' daisy. Are you kidding me?!?

When I discovered this morning that they had actually removed the cage I had placed over one of my grown-from-seed Echinops (globe thistle) and completely removed it, let's just say little children's ears would have required covering.  And now it's war. I don't know exactly how I will defend my turf, but most options are on the table. The deer are soon to meet their match, I hope.

If anyone has suggestions for me, I sure would love to hear them. Please post your ideas!

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