A small deer on a Sunday morning


Sunday was a beautiful morning with sun breaking through the early fog and a bit less chill than the preceding days. My wife and I sipped coffee, read the newspaper, and while discussing the sad state of affairs that is today’s world I noticed a small deer on the slate patio just below our kitchen window. It was nibbling on black mondo grass that borders the patio, and apparently not finding that particularly appetizing, it moved on to sniff one plant, then another without any satisfaction. In a minute the young deer wandered a few steps further and was lost in the jungle of camellias, mahonias, and hydrangeas that surround the house.

Watching through the window I was careful not to make a sound to startle the youngster, and my wife and I searched in vain to see if others were nearby since we often see three or more at a time. I was curious to see if the deer would find any plants to its liking since I last sprayed deer repellent several weeks ago, and as I surveyed that section of the garden later I found a few leaves of a large gold leafed aucuba that had been chewed, half a leaf on an oakleaf hydrangea, and a few tips of the mondo grass.

I will admit that I’ve become a little sloppy in spraying, a little too confident that deer won’t bother the larger shrubs, and I have no doubt that the few branches on the aucuba and hydrangea were missed when I sprayed them. The mondo grass, I don’t think was sprayed at all. So, the damage was negligible, and though I see new tracks through muddy parts of the garden every time I walk through, there has been no significant injury to plants since I began to spray with a repellent several years ago.

And I’ve become lazy. I neglected to spray at all at the start of August, and there’s plenty of blame to go around because I depend on my wife to keep after me, and where was she through the month? In any case, I came to my senses the second week of September when I noticed a few leaves had been nibbled on the ‘Blue Cadet’ hostas that are immediately beside the thicket where the deer rest in the heat of summer afternoons. It had been more than sixty days since I sprayed in early July, and after two months and a dozen inches of rain the repellent finally wore thin. I pledge to be more conscientious in the future, but no real harm was done, and if anything I am more resolute in my belief that deer repellent is the most effective means of protecting the garden.

Every day I hear people complain that deer have eaten this or that, and how their plants choices are so limited. They moan that even supposedly deer resistant plants have been eaten, and how can they have a decent garden? By spraying once each month (when my wife reminds me) from the start of May to October, I have no such troubles.

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