I tried to create a garden of flowering plants in our front yard when we first moved to Maryland many years ago. Shrubs, seeds, and bulbs, made their way to our home from the local store. Many of these plants actually survived for at least a little while. We had beautiful flowers of different colors in our yard that drew in the bees and the butterflies. It was actually pretty. It was a time when I actually tried to remember the names of the plants we had in our garden! The plants needed care, and some of them died because I was not very good at it. But, generally, things were going well. Then came the deer.
The deer in our neighborhood are absolutely fearless. They walk around on our streets as if the whole place belongs to them. They sometimes do not move even an inch when you try to shoo them away. They also eat everything up in the yard. It is worse in winter when they get really hungry. I had tried to find plants that they are not supposed to like, but that did not stop them.
I gave up trying to create a garden a long time ago. I would not get much sympathy when I ranted on about the deer immediately after they ate up a bunch of stuff. I was told that deer also needed to live. Served me right for trying to live in a green and wooded place similar to the place I grew up in in India, where there were a lot of deer!
But, now, the attempt to create a garden has been revived once again! The motivating force for this effort came from elsewhere, but I had no objection to it. I knew enough to not set my expectations too high. We planted a bunch of supposedly deer-resistant plants. I also made sure to spray this product on the plants every once in a while to try to deter the deer.
Unfortunately, it has not been working out that well. The deer have been munching regularly on some of the plants we bought. Deer-resistant, my foot! They also try out the other deer-resistant plants we bought, but stop before getting too far. A few of these plants seem to recover after being eaten, with new leaves reappearing, only for them to be chewed up once again. The “deer-resistant” ground cover that we had planted must have been particularly enjoyable since they actually seem to have dug deeper into the soil with the mouths to get access to any succulent leaves that they might have missed. (It would be amazing if that plant comes back to life.) I came back from a bike ride this morning and saw that the deer had made a meal of another plant that seemed to have been recovering.
The previous owner of the house had planted hostas on the side. They used to come out beautifully every year – until the deer found them. They love the leaves and the flowers. They either jump over, or get around, the plastic fence I put in place. In spite of being eaten regularly, the plants come back every year in Spring – only to be eaten once again. This year things were a little different for a while. I had changed up the fence a little bit and that seemed to keep them out for a little bit longer than usual. The hostas were growing really nicely, and I was looking forward to seeing the flowers. And then the deer found a way in one night!
I am not as upset about this kind of stuff these days as I used to be!
One aspect of taking care of the garden, regardless of the losing battle with deer, is the process of pulling the weeds and the wild grass that appear with regularity among the plants that we are trying to grow. It takes the right set of circumstances for me to actually get down to the job of weeding, but once started, I can keep going on and on. There is actually something peaceful, meditative, and zen-like, about the experience of weeding. There is also the feeling of satisfaction when getting the weeds out by the roots (even though you know that your effort is ultimately futile, and that you are going to be repeating the operation some time in the future – again and again).
There is also something interesting about the way in which the weeds seem to get themselves entangled in the plants that we are actually trying to grow, to the extent that you have to pull up some of the “legitimate” plants along with the weeds in order to be successful in the weeding operation. Is this a natural process that is meant to increase the chances of survival for the weed? Order and organization, and separation, seem to be the enemy of the existence and survival of some weeds. Order and organization are not always the way in which natural processes work on Planet Earth. Maybe things are meant to be messy. Human beings messed with the overall equilibrium of the planet when we started creating our own ordered processes and our civilizations. Today, we are doing this to a greater extent than we ever did in our history – primarily looking out for ourselves, not paying enough attention to the rest of the planet. All that stuff is in the weeds! Can this be a good thing? How does our garden grow?