Urban deer (doe)

Everything Eats!

It’s a fact of life that all animals (including humans) must eat. No eating, no life. But for some reason, in my garden this spring more plants than usual have been gnawed, nibbled, and chomped.

To wit:

  • A small plant of Rosa chinensis “Mutabilis,” purchased last summer and carefully planted in autumn, was chomped to 2″ above ground level last winter by a deer who found its little green twigs a nice snack. It survived and is even blooming now, but it’s half the size it should be.
  • The potted delphiniums sprouted out beautifully, but sparrows decided their new leaves were a delightful salad green in March. Netting to the rescue!
  • A tomato seedling was reduced to a stub by a slug whose presence in its pot was overlooked by the gardener when lugging the pots inside for the night. Amazingly, the seedling survived and has actually sprouted a new leaf, but I don’t think it will fully recover.
  • A group of sunflower seedlings vanished overnight, eaten by something. Fortunately a couple of new ones sprouted late and survived.
  • Siberian and Pacific Coast irises budded up nicely, but several buds were found on the ground or hanging by a thread, victims of so-called “climbing cutworms,” which are actually larvae of various moths. Like the other eaters, they dine at night. They don’t eat the flower buds themselves, but chew through the stems just below the buds. For some reason this is especially infuriating.
  • The rose “Fragrant Cloud” for once escaped defoliation by black spot and developed several buds earlier than it ever has. Unfortunately, something drilled holes in a couple of them. Aphids invaded the holes and ants showed up to manage the aphids. Needless to say, the resulting flowers were rather poor, but there are some healthy buds developing now.
Flower of rose "Fragrant Cloud" damaged by bugs
O Rose thou art sick.
Image from Wikimedia Commons

All this eating had me self-castigating for carelessness and resorting to defensive measures: grinding Perlite to use as a gritty deterrent around irises, lugging pots into the shed every evening, squirting deer repellant, and creeping around at night armed with a flashlight and scissors, looking for caterpillars. I dispatched several, and most of the irises bloomed well in the end.

Blue bearded irises

Thinking about it, I’ve realized a few things:

  • It’s not surprising that the fresh growth of early spring coincides with the emergence of life forms whose sole mission in life is to eat until they move on to the next stage, which is to reproduce.
  • Buds are high-value items. Plants put a lot of energy into buds, so it’s logical that they would be targets for eaters.
  • Once leaves and stems toughen up, they are no longer of interest.
  • It’s a good idea to plant a few extra seeds, just in case.
  • Most plants survive.
Perennial bed on west side of house, looking north

Nature Photo Challenge #14: My Haven of Peace

This week’s challenge from Denzil Nature is photos of a place where we find peace. So this is my garden, where I experience peace as well as face challenges, deal with problems, and figure things out.

This is where I struggle and strive, dig and swear, and, on windless evenings or summer daybreaks, experience peace (until I see something that needs doing).

(Blog followers have seen these photos before; hope you don’t mind.)

Back garden
Garden pond
Blue Siberian irises
Rybička fish-shaped pocket knife from Czechia

What Happened Last Week

In a word (or two), not much. Or, a number of small things.

In the Garden…

The highest temperature so far this year—17C (63F). Not much rain; March has been dry. Anticipating summer drought, I’ve already laid out three of my six soaker hoses and acquired a new sprinkler. It can be set to about 1 foot from the ground or raised to 3 feet. A three-armed whirly-twirly thing on top flings water around generously. It’s definitely not a water-conserving model, but the idea is it will supplement the soaker hoses in seriously dry times.

Tomato seeds have sprouted, and the 1-inch tall seedlings are on a south-facing windowsill. Pepper seeds are still awaiting emergence on top of the hot water tank.

Ornamental cherry trees are in full bloom on the boulevards, adding a froth of pink to the scene. Daffodils are almost done, but tulips are about to bloom. So is the magnolia.

Early ornamental cherry on boulevard April 1, 2023

Last spring I congratulated myself on pulling up every single plant of shotweed (Cardamine oligosperma or maybe C. hirsuta) in the entire garden before they could bloom, thus ensuring no shotweed here this year. (Gardeners who know this weed will be laughing now.) I must have missed one or two, so have been pulling up tiny shotweeds for the past several weeks. They are pretty when young, but absolutely cannot be allowed to shoot their seeds all over the place.

The little plant of Rosa mutabilis that was deer-nipped to 2 inches from the ground in December appears to be alive. But two old pelargoniums, that survived many freezes in past winters, are dead. I should have brought them inside when temperatures of -8C (18F) were predicted last December, but told myself that they would be OK covered up. I was wrong. Pelargoniums (tender geraniums) are easy to replace, so it’s not a huge loss, except in principle.


Along with the sprinkler, on a whim I ordered this cute little pocket knife made in Czechia. It’s only 8 cm (about 3 in.) long, folded up, but feels surprisingly weighty.

Rybička fish-shaped pocket knife from Czechia
More info at


I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Webster’s delightful adventure tale Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights. I’m halfway through Once Upon a Tome, by Oliver Darkshire, a book of anecdotes about working in an antiquarian bookshop in London. And I’m more than halfway through A Rooster for Asklepios by Christopher D. Stanley, an absorbing historical novel set in Graeco-Roman times.


Not much. Yet.


Lots. Thoughts yet to be organized and turned into writing.

Perennial bed on west side of house, looking north

I’m in the Garden

Gardeners can buy cute little signs that tell burglars people who knock at the door where they are. I don’t have one of those signs, but if I did, I’d hang it on the blog.

It looks like spring has finally arrived.

Snow is a distant memory.

Crocuses and daffodils are blooming.

Purple crocuses closeup February 2022
Early daffodils February 2022

Much needs to be done.

Admire the hellebores, which are in full bloom.

Hellebore "Ruby Wine"

Lay out the soaker hoses. Remember the drought of 2022?

Old black rubber soaker hose coiled up

Start seeds indoors.

Tomato seeds and seed packages

And then there’s edging, mixing and spreading compost and mulch, moving plants around, applying deer repellant, preparing pots for tomatoes—and peppers this year!

So if you notice fewer posts here in the next few weeks, it’s because I’m in the garden.

Back garden
It’s not quite like this yet, but soon!

Nature Photo Challenge: Pink

This week’s challenge by Denzil is pinkness. I found several relatively recent photos in my Media Library without much effort. Mostly flowers, of course.

Nerine bowdenii flowers with Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) in background
Pink nerines
Pink tulip close-up
Tulip. Undoubtedly pink!
Hellebores and Pieris japonica new foliage
Pink pieris foliage
Lamprocapnos spectabilis, Dicentra spectabilis, Bleeding Heart
Bleeding heart
Pink oriental lily, last lily of 2021
Oriental lily
Pink lacecap hydrangea July 2021
Rose "Fragrant Cloud" bloom bleached by sun during June 2021 heat wave
Rose “Fragant Cloud” bleached by the heat dome of June 2021. It should not be pink!
Hellebore "Pirouette" flower closeup
Hellebore “Pirouette”
Pink winter sunrise
Pink sunrise