Ah, yes. Deer, rabbits, voles, moles, gophers, squirrels, and god knows what else. The New York Times ran a fascinating piece about such on Thursday. I read about koi farmers with dozens of one-eyed fish (picked out by birds), people who kill woodchucks and eat them, people who drown squirrels in rain barrels, and people who bash in the heads of porcupines with sledgehammers. I’ve heard these stories before; every summer during Garden Walk suburban gardeners tell me that they go on garden walks because the only way they can enjoy a garden is vicariously.
Just Thursday, I was giving a talk at a local bookstore and the conversation turned to deer. “Liquid Fence?” I faltered. “Have you ever smelled it?” said one.” Doesn’t work,” said another. “Rabbits ate my yucca to the ground, so now I don’t grow that any more and I grow different things in containers,” said my nearest neighbor.
I must admit to being clueless about critters. We have much more pavement than greenery in my neighborhood, and none of the edge habitat that deer love so much in suburban lawn-land. And it’s one thing to lose your daylilies; quite another to lose a food crop upon which you may have been depending, as described here:
The animals do not take one or two tomatoes as if they’re in a greenmarket in the Hamptons; they go down the row sampling, so that everything is ruined. Or they uproot and destroy a crop, without eating a thing, in their search for insects and grubs. There is, in fact, a sameness to the stories the gardeners tell: “If they just had taken one head of lettuce, or a few strawberries — but they decimated the whole thing!” After a season of grueling labor and multiple attempts at benign deterrence, the sight of a trashed garden is often the last straw: the moment when a gentle gardener will suddenly go Rambo.
The truth is that for many WNY gardeners, Bambi is their worst nightmare. Does anyone have a feasible solution? I am sure the gardeners described in the Times article would love to hear it.