Thursday, November 6, 2014

Garden Detente: Cage Them for Their Own Protection

Reds and Golds

Brilliant Yellows

Orange and Gold Canopy

Gorgeous Fall Spectrum of Color
Underneath the breathtaking canopy of reds, golds, and oranges the nervous frenzy is mounting. The squirrels start it with their frantic hiding of nuts in so many odd places, half of which they'll never find again.   This gets the other animals worked up. Pretty soon the compost bin has been ransacked; the mice have begun taking up lodging in the garage, storing the neighbors birdseed in your gardening boot and all animals begin to eat voraciously of anything they can find. Deer eat the last leaves off of low shrubs before they can even hit the ground and once the leaves are gone the tender  branches are also fair game.They're fattening up for the coming winter. Bucks rarely come out in  plain view in our yard, only in autumn and when winter is at its absolute coldest. You don't get to be a big old buck by being careless but when you're hungry you're hungry. They can eat a lot.

So, lock up your shrubs for their own safety. Roll out the fencing, the chicken wire, whatever you've got. It's got to be metal, though. Plastic is no match for those voracious eaters. For years they wouldn't let a few of my shrubs get any taller than a few feet and that was probably only because the snow bank was protecting that much.

 I've been slipping a tube of chicken wire over newly planted shrubs as soon as I put them in the ground. In fall I need to remember to check to make sure they haven't outgrown their armor.

Last year, in one area, where I've put shrubs close together, I unrolled 20 feet of six foot high fencing and enclosed the whole area. Low and behold the shrubs I thought weren't growing because of the amount of shade they were receiving actually grew and looked full and healthy.

 I was so satisfied with that solution that I did the same with a roll of four foot high chicken wire around another section this fall. I'll take the fences down when the coast is clear and tender buds are safe.

So now I'm out of chicken wire on hand and am reaching for anything to protect my taller shrubs, my accent shrubs and anything that is normally fair game during the cold winter months.

Now, I'm not heartless. I certainly don't want deer to starve. I offer up all the buckthorns, honeysuckles and volunteer shrubs and trees that have popped up in inconvenient places. They can have those. Enjoy! Just stay away from my Euonymous, my Ninebarks, my Red Twig Dogwoods, my new seedlings, and  even my Arborvitae. Yes, they even eat those in the winter months. That's why I've locked them up out of reach until the warm breezes and sweet smells bring us all out of our dens in spring.