OH, DEER ME! – October 2023

By Diane Lockspeiser

There used to be four rather small deer who wandered through my yard, eating all sorts of greenery. Lately there seems to be only one, and that one hasn’t been around for a little while. I know this because the string bean plants growing on my garden fence have leaves on the outer side of the chicken wire once more.

When my chickens were freely roaming, they used to eat the string beans, both leaves and beans, up to about two feet, the height they could reach. The deer eats up to almost five feet high, but it doesn’t eat the beans. It actually makes it easier for me to find and collect the string beans, and it doesn’t seem to affect the plants much. They just grow more on the other side of the fence.

I have learned to cover what I don’t want eaten in the yard with bird netting. It deters the deer, but not the wrens! Unfortunately, I have caught several birds, and a snake, with the netting. Since they invariably die there, I use the netting sparingly. I want the wrens around because they are primarily bug eaters. They do also help themselves to many of our berries. But we have enough to share.

The only time I got really upset with the deer was during one Winter when they started eating the rhododendron. Besides that I adore the greenery in Winter and the gorgeous flowers in Spring, I had thought they were poisonous so I was surprised to have them eaten. There was one bush in particular that I had grown from a tiny seedling I found in the woods. I had planted it in front of a front window in order to eventually replace the dying evergreens that were there for privacy but were too close to the house. Fortunately, there was over a foot of snow on the ground that Winter, so the bush did survive the onslaught of hungry deer.

The other evergreens in that area have since died and the nearby lilac bush leaned over and covered the bare spot. The rhododendron is now finally big enough that I can trim back that lilac bush in February or March while it’s dormant.

Meanwhile, I started a new garden on the other side of the walkway. I bought several plants to go there that are new to me. I guess I should cover them with netting, at least in the beginning, because I don’t know how tasty they are to deer!

And then there’s the rabbits, a whole other ball game, but the netting does deter them also.

Sorry, wrens! Hopefully it’s only temporary.~