Over the years I have battled wildlife in my garden, as I have a tendency to want to grow extremely edible plants, ones that excite rabbits and deer in particular. Seven years ago in desperation, I finally erected a handsome wood fence in my suburban landscape, one that has enabled me to try to grow any plant that catches my fancy.
Any self-respecting deer could easily jump over my six feet tall fence — but they haven’t, perhaps because there is enough outside the fence to sate their palate or perhaps it simply isn’t worth the trouble.
I had used every imaginable deer repellent but nothing worked to mask the tastiness of the daylily or rose. There were years I never even saw a daylily bloom. Gradually, my garden seemed to contain only ornamental grasses, crinums, and various euphorbias. Lilies, daylilies, phlox, and roses were all ingested. Becoming more of a chore, gardening simply lost its luster, partially because I rarely saw the fruits of my labors.
That’s when I called my builder who erects wonderful fences.
The fence has made all the difference in my gardening life. I’m not against the presence of wildlife but when it comes to gardening I want to have my cake and eat it too. Now I grow plants I like instead of just those that deer avoid.
When putting up a barrier between your plants and wildlife, it’s important to know your gardening enemy. After the erection of the fence, I discovered that some of my plants, especially my lilies were eaten down to the nub — and the culprits were rabbits.
Peter Rabbit, along with Benjamin Bunny — and Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail for that matter — quickly turn me into a Mr. McGregor. I now read Beatrice Potter’s charming story with a jaundiced eye, totally relating to Mr. McGregor. Rabbits in my garden never stopped eating and gnawing.
Once we trapped the rabbits (whom we removed from the premises but did not kill), we inserted a wire mesh along the length of the fence, a solution that successfully has kept out the rabbits.
Soon the daylilies stopped cowering and bravely began to put out new blooms. The hostas stopped bearing torn, shredded leaves, the lily stalks swayed gloriously to new heights, and the roses began to flower in earnest.
Now fences demand some upkeep. Rabbits can gnaw through the heaviest of the deer fences so vigilance is always required. Wooden fences need to be painted or stained every few years. I was lucky in that the way my yard is situated in the neighborhood, I was able to put up a fence that didn’t block off anyone’s line of sight.
In the end it was worth it. I began to enjoy gardening again. I watched the deer from afar and so far in the seven years I’ve had the fence, none have jumped it. When asked what makes a good garden, most gardeners will mention the necessity of have a good, rich, well-draining soil. To that I always add that a good fence makes a good garden.
Absent from their gardens, Kit and Lise enjoy roaming our region exploring the intersection of horticulture and suburban living. More on Instagram @AbsenteeGardener or email: email@example.com.