|once upon a time|
|entrance to the deer dining hall|
I knew at once who the culprits were, for only a few nights ago, coming out the kitchen door just as dark descended, I had surprised them stepping out of the trees and into the driveway toward trouble. I halted them in their tracks, gave them a good talking to, and sent them back into the hollow where they came from. Now the three large does and their teenage sidekicks, as well as their antlered friend from the next block over, had clearly returned when my guard was down. Though they must pass through much more high-toned feeding grounds than mine, somehow they felt that my table, rudimentary as it is, was the most enticing. They didn't, by the way, feed on the young new transplants; they chose the biggest, showiest plants I had just put in, front and center under the trees. Pride goeth before the invasion.
|and then there was one...|
Depending on whether you are an optimist, pessimist, determinist, or fatalist, you could point out respectively that 1) at least they didn't eat all the plants; 2) I should have known better than to plant such delicious deer food...didn't I have enough experience earlier with the hydrangeas I adore and the jack-in-the-pulpits I was so proud of? 3) deer have to eat, too; 4) alas, there is no point in trying to defend a garden...nature just happens.
|I don't think so...|
Well, practically speaking, I could also cage the vulnerable plants in wire netting...not aesthetically what I want for my woodsy landscape (though if I were growing food for my own sustenance, it might be a different tale)...or construct high deer fences, as some fiercely dedicated gardeners have in another near neighborhood plagued with hungry wildlife. Or, more philosophically, I could give up entirely and just let them forage at will.
Which is what I will probably do. There is no way I can stand sentry at the kitchen door every evening to shoo away night feeders. I have enough trouble picking off caterpillars from the basil and parsley leaves. And fences, bamboo spikes, bloody ground, and poison seem too much like the imperialist weapons of war I'd like the world to learn to do without.
After garden duty, I walked up to the Coker Arboretum (where there is no sign of visiting deer), wandering among the healthy, prolific specimens that keep the campus a place of restful beauty. I sat for a while thinking about...no, not gardens, but art, and in the quiet managed, like Newton, to wake up to a solution for my current project, which has had me stumped for a few weeks. Inspiration, after all, is what gardens are for.