I walked my garden early this morning to discover an unpleasant surprise. Deer had visited. Understand, I live pretty far out in the country, and near the Manistee National Forest, so there are plenty of deer, also coyote, fox, raccoons, opossums, moles, mice, turkey, rabbits, crows and a bear who lounged on his back dumping the contents of my slashed and broken bird feeder into his smiling mouth. They love my garden as much as I do. I won't go into the many benefits of this area, which I truly appreciate. I just want to rant.
Walking along the red, white and blue garden next to the driveway, I noticed a couple daylily stems minus the blossoms that would have bloomed firecracker red today. The cat mint is in full of glorious blue spikes, the 'Icicles' milkweed wears charming white disks. The burgundy-red heads of the grass 'Karl Foerster' is stunning, but I've been waiting for the hot red of my daylilies to complete the scene. A closer look showed not just one, but all the flower stems eaten.They'd already eaten all my lily blossoms two weeks ago, so I was mad. Going into the vegetable garden that has deer fencing, I found my sunflowers decimated--leafless stalks sticking out of the ground. The cabbages and kohlerabi were eaten down to nothing, some pulled out of the ground, the lettuce gone. How did they get in the garden? Right now I have a keen empathy for Elmer J. Fudd.
At this time of year I swear I will learn to shoot, get a license and take care of the problem, but the logical portion of my mind know that won't end the deer attacks. We have a young doe with twin fawns cavorting in the field around the vegetable garden every dawn. And I've stood on the back deck yelling at another perfectly placid doe who calmly ate bread thrown out for the birds while staring up at me as if asking, "What's your problem?"
Are there cures? Short of staying up 24/7 with noise makers or guns? Not inexpensive ones, and who wants their garden to end up looking like a armed fortress encircled with 8' wire fencing? Experience tells me that the only one getting caught in one of those revolving water canons set off by an electronic eye would be me.
Are there detriments? A few. Deer fencing actually will work as deer do not like to jump into confined spaces, but once deer learn a way to thwart the fence, the gardener needs to use another way to stop them. Deer sprays can work, unless the deer have made a habit of eating that particular plant, then nothing stops them. Sprays have to be periodically reapplied. Dogs can help, but mine always wanted in the house at night, plus I mentioned coyotes and bear? There are plants that are deer resistant, and I've used them to encircle the ones labeled deer candy, but it's no sure cure. Deer are persistent and creatures of habit. So am I, and I don't want to stop feeding the birds, and I will plant whatever I like, not just plants deer hate.
Gardeners are constantly at war with varmints. So, I'll suck up my disappointment, enjoy watching the fawns running and jumping in the field (I won't relay my current imaginings at such a sight), and appreciate the flowers that do bloom in my garden while I get back to work on varmint prevention techniques.