Just Another Adventure: Fantasies;

Gardeners Grabbed by Life-Altering Event




Looking out my office window I see eight deer wandering from the woods on to our side lawn. As the deer meander they pause to stop and nibble, taking taste tests as they travel. Such an idyllic, picturesque, scene right here on my very own lawn.  Holding still as not to startle, I imagine in my mind’s eye a choreograph of a gentle furred family gracefully pausing, bowing their heads then moving on to repeat their movements. As they pause spaces between the deer are filled by a ballet company of performers weaving and flowing, mimicking the behavior of the deer while Bambi’s tail flickers to the beat of nature and music from a Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky ballet.

How lucky can anyone appreciate of nature be when looking upon a scene such as this in his or her yard. (Have you picked up on the sarcasm as yet?)

Over the past two weeks my mail has been delivered by Noah’s Ark. If there was a time when it was not raining in a twenty-four hour period I must have slept through it. My Trillium were emerging, my lilies were up about three to four inches, Disporum and Polygonatum sticking their noses up to test the air. Dicentra and European anemone were in drifts of abundance. A wonderfully awakening late winter and early spring garden to walk and rejoice.

Never Before

And my garden and I were soon joined by the family of deer. In all my years of gardening I saw sights never seen before. The deer were browsing Dicentra cucullaria. They have never eaten Dicentra before. Anemone nemorosa are being grazed just before blooming and drifts have stems with no foliage in random patches. I know from past experience that Trillium will not stand a chance for I already see where deer have taken the tops from trillium lancifolium… along with potential blooms and future seeds, not to mention my sense of satisfaction in achieving a drift after fifteen years of care. Trillium stamineum now stands two inches in height and leafless. My martagon lilies have been bitten back to an inch or two of the leaf litter. Not just any of my martagons, but the best three cultivars. There are other examples of never before touched plants, but this should tell my tale of frustration.

I Knew That

So, if I knew deer would be in my garden as usual, and see their increasing numbers in my yard, why in heaven’s name did I not spray? That is where frustration waltzes into the idyllic scene. The weather would not dry out for a time sufficient to spray and have it dry on the foliage to be effective. Each dreary day I watched for sun and some drying so I could spray the susceptible plants. While I was performing my rituals to bring about sunshine, the deer were browsing through my garden each night as though they read a menu to Gene’s Diner before arriving. Not spraying gave me the opportunity to see each day bring about another prized plant browsed to the ground.

Not Just Me

Dicentra eximia, Wild bleeding HeatNot to be left out, my wife takes an active role in gardening and the plight of browsing deer. Her raised beds of annuals, perennials, herbs and vegetables have become feeding troughs so deer do not have to lower their mouths as far. In early morning and late afternoon I watch her run out the door clapping her hands, shouting and performing all kinds of dances to frighten the deer away. Like small children they know just how serious she is or is not, what the repercussions could be.  So, they raise their heads, gaze upon the funny moving and noisy person, and go back to eating their dinner. She has almost given up on growing anything in her raised beds, having moved her vegetables and herbs to a greenhouse where she constructed some raised beds. Perhaps this year we will again have tomatoes and cucumbers, cole crops, peas and strawberries.

One lesson learned thus far is to close the greenhouse doors at night for the deer will wander inside and get confused attempting to exit. Then what they do not eat they step upon.


I enjoy a good Disney animation as much as any other, still getting overly emotional over Bambi and Thumper. I can imagine fantasies where deer prance and wander about in unison in an overall flowing grace. Sticking with the Disney theme I can stay with ballet performers repeating the rhythm and motion of the deer. All of which is to take place in my side yard next to the woods.


Just not in my garden! Please.