Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Oh, deer

published in the South Shore Breaker - August 10, 2016
How was I to know when we moved to one of the busiest roads in town that my biggest gardening challenge would be the deer that come to taste the delicacies? 
 
We spent over seven years living in the country, and had a small herd of deer who traveled through our fields and feasted on the apples produced by our century old trees. I did learn to be quite creative in protecting our small vegetable boxes. Our veggie gardens werent the picture perfect gardens you see in magazines. Our gardens were draped with chicken wire to keep the deer from snacking.
two members of a herd of deer that wandered our country property
When we moved to our home in the country there was absolutely no landscaping and we had to start from scratch. Twenty acres of hay fields marched right up to the house. No cut grass. No flowers or shrubs. The first year, our flower garden was a four foot square planted with transplants from our Ontario home. Over the next five summers, our gardens expanded dramatically. Enhancements is what we called them, because I would never admit that I was creating more work for myself. The gardens were my pride and joy, and they were a never ending source of wonder for learning about nature. One summer kept us close to home because of health issues, but I had lots to keep me busy in tending to the gardens as well as trying to capture their beauty in photographs. My husband still kids me about spending an hour outside taking pictures of water drops on blades of grass after a summer rain. He says it takes a special mind to be entertained so easily. I take that as a compliment, wouldnt you?

Although the deer enjoyed many of our vegetables, they never bothered with our flower gardens. Until we moved to town.

One of the first things I did when we prepared to list our country home for sale was to divide and pot up some of our perennials. Those poor plants languished in pots for almost two years before we finally received an offer for our house that actually closed. My first priority, before we moved any furniture, was to move my flowers. We loaded up our trailer with flowers and rocks. Yes, rocks. We slogged away in 30 degree heat and unloaded all the goodies and put them in the backyard behind the new house. We went back to our country home for the night and when we returned the next day I made a discovery. I found out that the deer in town had a party over night and we supplied the buffet. All of those plants that I cared for in pots for two years, and they were chewed down to the roots in one night.
Well, we got all our furniture moved on the long weekend last August, and before I got all the boxes unpacked I had gardens planted at the front of the house. I do have my priorities and plants outrank kitchen supplies. Our new neighbours must have wondered what kind of green thumb I had when all the flowers I was planting were stubs of green.

We have our backyard fenced now, but my ongoing battle continues in the front yard. Contrary to advice from gardening experts who say that the summer is not the time to move perennials, I have been digging up and moving all the deer delicacies to the backyard. Thankfully, there are some plants left that seem to be untouched. Most of our neighbours are tearing up their lawns and putting down new sod in their battle against cinch bugs, but thats another story and we havent faced that battle yet.
time stood still in the dappled shade of the Centennial Trail
As much as I am frustrated about the challenges of deer devouring the gardens, I am happy that we didnt leave nature behind when we moved from the country. A couple of weeks ago, I was walking alone on the Centennial Trail. This is something that rarely happens, because I am owned by two dogs and they dont like the idea of me walking alone. The trail was quiet and dappled shade danced in the soft breeze. I looked up and a doe was standing at the edge of the trail about thirty feet in front of me. I stopped and we took a long look at each other. Time seemed to stand still. It was magical. I was carrying my pocket camera, and ever so slowly removed it from my pouch to try to capture the moment. One click of the shutter and the doe leaped across the path and into the woods. I managed to catch another shot of her peeking out from behind some trees before we parted ways. 
a magical moment connecting with nature
I try to remember that magical feeling on the mornings when I take a close look at our front garden and realize that we had visitors the night before. That brief moment of captivation is something special to focus on.

1 comment:

Flora Doehler said...

Lovely article Sara! Deer me is right! I'd love to read about your decision to move from rural to urban. (As if you were short on topics haha)