In the early hours of this February snow six deer passed single file through the forest edge behind our home while my wife and I lunched on chicken soup and sandwiches, gazing out the kitchen window at the rapidly accumulating snowflakes. The last in this leisurely procession walked with a prominent limp, a result, I am quite certain, of not looking before you leap. All were quite thin, which I assume is not unusual for this time of the winter.
I felt a momentary guilt for spraying the deer repellent that has made the evergreens in the garden unpalatable, though I did see a day earlier that deer had found a lone liriope through the melting snow of three days past, and nibbled the foliage to the ground. I was tempted to expose the remainder of the grouping to save me from the task of having to cut them back in March.
With many more inches of snow today the groundcovers will not be exposed for several weeks in this shady garden, but I suppose the deer will find enough arborvitae and yew in other parts of the neighborhood to survive.
We have made a considerable effort to make this garden an attractive home to wildlife, but as the collection of hosta and other prized plants were decimated by deer my wife threatened drastic actions, including purchase of a gun. I took this no more seriously than her threats against the mice in the basement, the woodpecker that has pecked holes in our stucco chimney, or the squirrels who reside in our attic (all of which were threatened with violence), but I have noted the limits of her tolerance so that I might avoid my blood being shed should I prove to be too great an annoyance.
The snow, of course, has become tiresome as spring was nearly in sight. It’s likely that the hellebores blooming will be delayed under this snowy blanket, and the early daffodils, crocus, and iris won’t poke their heads above ground for several weeks. Still, in a short while there will be juicy tulips for the deer to feast on, and all will be well, though repairs from this snow’s damage might last well into March.
As quickly as I regain energy enough to write again, we will discuss the damage the winter snows have done to the garden, and what we can do about it.