BY KIMBERLY MAYER
The state of the garden is, more or less, just grounds. After a great deal of planning, digging, planting, watering, and anticipation, we are pretty much back to what we had in the first place. A lot by the sea in an old growth forest that had always gone its own way and done what it wanted. I never meant to disturb that; I had only hoped to add a little color.
Sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back…
After doing my research I put in plants that were both deer-resistant and drought-resistant. (There’s a reason they call it “resistant” rather than “proof.”) This year tested us on both fronts. A long dry spring followed by an exceptionally warm summer, by Pacific Northwest standards, and more Bambis than ever being born perhaps? I don’t know, but I do know that every spring they will be born, and something came along and one by one, beheaded all the blossoms and devoured most of the plants. A hillside of Lupine, Wallflower, Wild Rose, Coneflower and Iceland Poppy.
Our theory is that, as with humans, taste is acquired. The Bambis have no idea yet what the deer ones like to eat and don’t like to eat. And my watering daily in this exceptionally warm climate to help new plantings get established only succeeded in establishing noxious weeds.
It’s like Risky Business around here, with thistles having a hay day.
You might say the state of the grounds now is primarily thistle. Prickly, like the jumping cholla cactus that leaps onto you as you brush by in the desert. Invasive, capable of growing to great height, with roots that extend deep in the soil and spread wide. Break a root trying to pull a thistle plant up, and multiple new thistle plants are likely to sprout.
Who knew all the trouble one could get into on a half-acre lot? If only I had left it alone….
But to be fair, the deer ones are allowing me some plants for which I am grateful: rhododendron, lavender, rosemary, and Shasta daisy. “Why, it is going to be a standing ovation of Shasta daisy along the fence!” I’ve been heard to exclaim.
And that is what I like most about gardening: the eternal optimism.