Ah Spring at last! Much thanks to Dianne Vennetta for inviting me to be part of Authors in Bloom. There are prizes! How can you participate? Read on to the end.
Spring in My Neck of the Woods
I confess that I am more an admirer of gardens than I am a person dedicated to gardening. My first instinct that first warm spring day was to wander in search of wildflowers. I found some at Bowman Hill Wildflower Preserve. Beloved and I spent a happy afternoon wandering around looking at the early blooms: bloodroot, skunk cabbage, bluebells and so on.
Why, you might ask, do wildflowers need a preserve or refuge? The east coast of the United States is overrun with white-tailed deer, or as I think of them, big, brown vermin. Majestic and beautiful you say? Yes. But destructive and overpopulated. They devour delicate blooms of most species. To provide a refuge, Bowman employs a ten-foot tall iron fence.
The critters have also made our area a center for Lyme Disease–shudder.
Back in my own yard, I am reluctant to plant flowers. We had some lovely hydrangeas when we moved in, but the past few years we have not had enough second-year growth for blooms to form the following spring. Plants disappear as soon as they sprout. The deer nibble them away. Our hostas put up a heroic fight, but they tend to look half chewed. It is very discouraging.
We also love home-grown vegetables, but our first year here we ran a deer cafeteria. We’ve learned a few things, and so for those of you troubled by deer my hard-learned tips are:
- Plant daffodils and peonies. So far I’ve never known the deer to eat either of them and they are gorgeous.
- Build a deer fortress around your vegetables. Ours is long and narrow, 18×6 feet, too narrow for the deer leap in. The fence itself at five feet tall is high enough to keep them from all but the very tops of the tomato plants. We call it the deer fortress. It works and we enjoy fresh vegetables.
- Consider Irises. They have never eaten mine, but other folks say theirs have been gobbled up. Our luck may be a factor of their location. They are up between the deer fortress and the garage. Lights and location against the house sometimes cut down on the damage, but when they get hungry enough, the deer come right up to the windows. So far they leave my irises alone.
- Similarly, consider raspberries. When I pondered if deer would eat them my grandson said, “Oh Grandma these are city deer. They will eat anything.” I believe that to be true when they are hungry enough. Our raspberries also live between the deer fortress and the garage which may be a factor.
- Don’t actually trust that anything you plant is “deer repellent.” If a winter is bad enough they will eat anything, especially in spring.
- Avoid tulips, one of their favorite snacks. I’ve heard it called “deer candy.”
- Avoid hostas. That one is called “deer salad.” They love it.
- Don’t put out food for them! A lady down the street does and, well, it doesn’t make for good neighborhood relationships.
- Try deer repellents, but be prepared for only modest results. Commercial ones are expensive, smell bad, and have to be redone. Human hair and human male urine work but, well, UGH.
- Hang your bird feeder about their head level. They find it easy to bump it, knock the seed out, and gobble up the bird’s dinner.
- Make sure new trees are completely wrapped in protective mesh. We have two that have survived with only four feet of mesh around them, but they aren’t very high as yet. We may need to raise it.
We are currently considering an additional area with a six foot fence, perhaps 18 x 18 or 20 x 20, with a fruit tree in every corner and a stand of bees in the center. Our theory is that will enable us to start the trees and protect them until they are big enough to withstand deer attacks.
If all else fails, my final tip is this: walk away and enjoy public gardens. Here in the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvani,a we are blessed with marvelous gardens. In addition to Bowman Hill, I suggest Morris Arboretum, Fairmount Park, or the world-class treasure that is Longwood Gardens. Among them, I find all the joy without the hearbreak.
Because my stories are set in the Regency and Victorian eras, English country houses are featured, all of which have gardens and agricultural issues in them. Songbird Cottage, the setting for A Dangerous Nativity, is surrounded by flowers and has vegetable patches out behind. The boys who grow up there are the heroes of my Children of Empire series, and the cottage looms large in memory and as a place to come home to. The heroine of The Reluctant Wife is an herbalist. Her work is featured as are Songbird Cottage and the neighboring Duke of Murnane’s greenhouses. Foxglove and its medicinal properties play a key role in that story.
The Blog Hop
Before you move on, I’m giving away a prize for this stop only. To win a signed print copy of The Reluctant Wife and a signed print copy of A Dangerous Nativity, the electronic copy of which is also available for FREE to all entrants, click on the link below.
For more prizes, simply move on and complete the entire hop. The GRAND PRIZE is an ereader of your choice (up to $200 value), (available to US entrants only). A second prize of $25 gift card for winner’s choice of book retailers, available to US and INTL residents, except where prohibited by law.
GRAND PRIZE entrants will be entered via a Rafflecopter giveaway widget, available on the initial and final landing page of this hop, located on BloominThyme. To win the GRAND PRIZE, you must visit each and every author on the hop and comment or enter their contest. Each site will post the links of participating authors but please feel free to visit www.diannevenetta.com to find the author link list at any point in time.
To enter Caroline’s giveaway:
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