I absolutely love to see deer in my wildlife garden! After all, isn’t that what a wildlife garden is all about? Creating an environment for all wildlife?
So, it is with some degree of sadness that I see article after article written about keeping deer out of wildlife gardens but very few about inviting these beautiful creatures in.
Deer visit my garden daily. I can thrill at the sight of a magnificent ten-point buck roaming my garden paths. And, I can watch close-up, the bond between a delicate doe and her twin fawns.
And, after they leave, I still have a beautiful garden. In fact, my wildlife garden has been on display in several garden tours. And, the questions asked are always the same: “How can you have deer in your garden and still have flowers and lush growth?”
My answer is really very simple: With just a little forethought and planning, I found that I could have my cake and eat it too!
Start by reading all the articles you can about deer resistant plants -there are some very good ones around. Then incorporate them into your unique garden plan. For example, when I needed privacy on the perimeter of my property, I used “Green Giant” arborvitae. Green giants live up to their name, grow faster than Leyland cypress, make a beautiful hedge and are quite deer resistant.
I spray “my” garden – the one near my terrace and the one in which I have lots of plants that are “candy” for the deer – with one of the good, natural deer repellents. And, since deer – like us – are creatures of habit, after a few forays, they stay away from the “smelly-to-them” garden.
I left the perimeters of my property untouched. It is my natural conservation buffer. Pines, oaks, bayberries and native low-bush blueberries abound, providing food for all wildlife. In front of the back buffer, which is the one the deer primarily use to come and go, I have planted many species of native plants – viburnums, in particular - and a few non-natives – hydrangea, hosta, azaleas, loosestrife - all plants that I know the deer love. I get them on sale in the fall and feel it is well worth the money spent. By the time my beautiful deer walk into my flowering garden, they are pretty full!
Also, in the wooded buffer, I always have a full bowl of cracked corn. It is for all the wildlife to enjoy and the deer do indulge at certain times of the year.
Pictures of my garden and the wildlife who visit are on Flickr. You can see first-hand that it is possible to have both a beautiful garden and visiting deer.
Wildlife Visitors: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mariasducktales/collections/72157626542255510/
I know that I promised to write more but a sweet little collie puppy named Christie got in the way.
This summer flew but there were some wonderful moments in my garden. Here are a few excerps from my column "From Fourth Neck," published in the Western Edition of The Southampton Press:
July 16th: As I walked out onto my terrace late last Wednesday afternoon, there, lying still on the bricks next to my prized yellow hibiscus, was a female hummingbird. Her fragile beauty and delicate wings were absolutely breathtaking. When I gently picked up this marvelous bejeweled treasure, I felt a faint heartbeat.
Warmed in my cupped hand, her tiny heart began to beat faster and her wings began to flutter—and then, just as suddenly, they stopped. As tears filled my eyes at the thought of losing her, I felt her life force return. And, when I opened my hand, her wings were beating stronger and, this time, I could hear a distinctive “hum.”
As I set her free, I watched in awe as she quickly flew up into her favorite old pine tree in my woods.
Two days later, as I sat quietly on my chaise lounge, she reappeared and hovered for quite a while, just 2 feet in front of me, unafraid, flying up, down, sideways and backwards. She was so close that I could almost touch her.
Was this very special, tiny visitor putting on a spectacular aerial show just for me? Was she saying “thank you for helping me?” I truly believe that she was!
August 13th: The early morning has always been my very favorite time of the day. Still, my 4-month-old collie puppy, Christie, takes it to the extreme. She wakes up at 5:15 a.m., bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to have breakfast and play!
But there is a proverbial silver lining. My hummingbirds are also hungry early and while Christie and I “play” on the terrace, they are “dining” on the flowers in my pots. They fly all around us, so close at times that I can hear their distinctive hum and almost touch them. What an exquisite treat!
August 27th: It seems that this summer just flew by. One minute I was anxiously awaiting those lazy, hazy days, and the very next minute I found myself writing the last column of August. Did my puppy, Christie, take up so much of my time? Or did the cold, wet weather have something to do with it?
The unequivocal stars of my garden this year were the bejeweled hummingbirds. And while you cannot really call them “stars,” my big, loud bullfrog and my very vocal chorus of peepers made quite an impression on my nighttime visitors. Mama Turkey returned late in the season with only two poults and the ring-necked pheasant with his animated distinctive calls deserted me in July.
Catbirds, cardinals and American goldfinches dominated my feeders while George, the groundhog, was nowhere to be found. And each evening at around sunset, a 10-point buck peruses my garden while his subordinates—a pair of six-pointers—await his commands.
“Heaven” is the only word I can think of to describe my garden and the “wild friends” who visit!
September 10th: My collie puppy has made me fall in love all over again with the very early morning. To see our dark, clear, starlit East End sky slowly fade to a dusky dawn and to hear my songbirds awakening trill is truly awe-inspiring!
September 17th: My hummingbird has not been around these past few days and I suspect that she has already left for her long flight to Costa Rica. It seems that my garden is a little less magical without her.
October 15th: My flowers may be slowly getting ready for their long winter’s nap, and my hummingbird may have left for the warm and sunny clime of Costa Rica, but my garden is still surprising me with the most beautiful of gifts! Magnificent dragonflies and damselflies abound, skimming over the lilypads and dancing among the buff-colored inflorescences of ornamental grasses and the dark seed-heads of echinacea and rudbeckia. And their amazing colors—bright fuchsias, electric blues and iridescent greens—glittering in the sparkling fall sunshine absolutely fascinate me.
October 29th: Mother Nature, with her broad paint brush, has, seemingly overnight, transformed my garden into a golden wonderland filled with warm hues of orange, burgundy and rust. The birds of summer are gone and I am slowly welcoming back my winter friends—black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches and woodpeckers. Bright red cardinals and bold blue jays abound, their feathers gleaming in the autumn sunlight, adding to nature’s marvelous tapestry.
And as I walk along my woodland paths with Christie, my 7-month-old collie puppy, I am enjoying her fascination with the falling leaves, the twittering birds, and the scampering squirrels as they noisily gather acorns for their winter nests.