For this month’s Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Wildlife in the Garden over at Gardening Gone Wild

Click on image for larger view.  See if you can find all 9 in this particular herd.


There are so many things to write about when it comes to wildlife in the garden — the pollinators, the crows, the songbirds and the beavers. But the wildlife that has the biggest influence on my gardening is deer.

There are lots in the neighborhood. I’m five miles outside of Ithaca, and I regularly see deer in town. In fact, twice this week walking from the parking lot to my office, I saw deer on the astroturf inside fence surrounding the practice fields on the Cornell campus. (Not the best grazing.) The deer pressure out here is even heavier.

Here’s how I deal with them:

  1. Fence the vegetable garden. Plastic mesh about 7 feet high. It’s a pain to maintain. I repaired it already this spring which practically guarantees we’ll get freezing rain or a heavy wet snow to drag it down again.
  2. Plant ‘deer-proof’ plants as much as possible. If deer are hungry enough. But poisonous stuff like castor beans and foxglove are way down on their list. I’ll buy daffodils, but not tulips. (The rodents like them less, too.) My garden is definitely not child-safe. There are lots of deer-resistant plant lists. They make great guides to get you started. But your mileage may vary. Deer in different areas definitely have different tastes.
  3. ‘Hide’ plants. I don’t buy hostas any more. But I moved some from our old place. Most are against the front of the house in a clautrophobic corner at the back of a bed with a fence on one side and a porch jutting out on the other. The deer haven’t touched them in the 10 years we’ve been here. I have the same hosta against the back of the house in a bed that juts out away from a corner of the house. There’s an easy escape route to the wetland. It gets chomped down every year.
  4. Tolerate some damage. I’ve got dwarf ninebark. Well, it’s not genetically a dwarf. But the deer keep in small for me. I’m waiting for the year they decide to skip it and I get some compensatory growth and it starts getting up to its potential. But until then, I’ll just enjoy this dwarf form. Most trees and shrubs I plant are real slow to get started. The deer provide a good excuse, rather than my own neglect.

Truth be told, rabbits are as big if not bigger nuisance. But they aren’t as easy to shoot — I mean take pictures of.

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Pre-holiday miscellany

poster via vintagraph
Image via Vintagraph. (Blog featureing great WPA-era poster prints and more.)

They better like it, as the state is getting dumped on pretty hard today. We’ve got probably 4 or 5 inches here so far, but it looks from the radar like it’s going to change over to sleet or peter out earlier than expected.

Below, a few weeks ago I noticed neat piles of spruce cones piled up at the base of two trees. JI just hope that the cones keep the squirrel that has moved in from munching bulbs and other more valuable things.

spruce cone pile

A few weeks ago I posted about Cornell Plantations’ use of ‘ugly mix’ — a short-lasting, homemade, spray-on dye used to discourage Christmas-tree rustlers from raiding evergreen plantings by making the trees look diseased. The picture I had wasn’t very good. Here’s what it really looks like — more subtle.

ugly mix

On these shortest days of the year, where it’s not fully light when I get to work and pretty dark when I leave, the glow of the greenhouses provides a little warmth to the soul.

ugly mix

ugly mix

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Weekend roundup

last child coverA bunch of odds and ends …

Richard Louv webcast. Louv, best-selling author, chairman of the Children & Nature Network, columnist, & recipient of the 2008 Audubon Medal will speak on Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder as part of the Cornell Plantations lecture series, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, Sept. 24. The event is sold out, but you can watch the live webcast. I’m pretty sure that the lecture will be archived and will post a link when it’s available.

Check out this temporary park in Collegetown created by landscape architecture students. The one-day event was sponsored by The Trust for Public Land and celebrated parks by creating temporary parks in public places.

Durand Van Doren, local metal artist extraorinaire, gave a great talk at the ACNARGS meeting Saturday. Too bad the weather was so nice and attendance was sparse. He told me that he’s due to install the remaining two gates on the north and south sides of Minns Garden this fall. I’ll have pictures when he does.

west gate at Minns

Ladybug, ladybug, where have you gone? Another Ithaca Journal article about a citizen science project involving gardeners, students and others to find “the once-ubiquitous beetles entomologists call Coccinella novemnotata — or C-9, for short.” It’s our state insect here in New York, but was last collected here in 1970, having been displaced by alien ladybug species that have a penchant for coming inside over winter.

high angle sod sculptureHigh-angle pix – When I was shooting the new sod sculpture at Bluegrass Lane last week, I thought I was doing good to get a high-angle shot from a lift on the turf crew’s utility vehicle.

But while I was out there, I met Bob Chiang, the father of one of the students who did me one better when it comes to high-angle shots. Bob rigs gas-powered model airplanes with digital cameras to get really high-angle shots. But at this shoot, he was experimenting for the first time with a camera mounted on a telescoping 25-foot survey pole. Shooting blind, I think the results were quite good. If I were a professional garden photographer, I’d rush right out and get one of these so that I could get a ‘second-story shot’ from anywhere. Check out Bob’s Landmark Images photo galleries for some great shots of the area from his model airplane.

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Tan, rested and ready

cheryl, craig, elly
Sister Cheryl, me, Elly on the slow boat.

Back home after a week at my brother and sister-in-law’s place on Norris Lake in eastern Tennessee to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday. Lots of boating, cards, fishing and fun. Cousin Dean took loads of great pix, including the above. Will follow up with pix of Friday morning’s 50-pound catch soon.

Update: Elly’s Picassa album.

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