Six on Saturday: Oh Deer!

Deer have avoided the primary rose garden for longer than anyone can remember. They avoid a large colony of carpet roses nearby also. (The carpet roses were relocated across the road from where they were, but did not go far.) I thought that some old canned roses could be about as safe in another landscape less than half a mile of winding road away. I was wrong. The primary phase of bloom was harvested by neighbors who walk past that landscape. Subsequent phases are mostly consumed by deer. I was surprised to find that these flowers lasted long enough to deteriorate.

1. There is not much vegetation that deer will not eat. New Zealand flax is one of the few species they ignore. It is primarily a foliar plant though. Bloom looks like dinky bananas.

2. Carpet roses often manage to bloom regardless of the voraciousness of deer. Bloom is generally too profuse for deer to eat all the flowers. Unfortunately, I loathe carpet roses.

3. I believe that the color of this particular rose could be described as ‘peach’. I am not at all proficient with color, so this is merely a guess. This cultivar seems to be a floribunda.

4. This rose initially blooms brighter yellow before fading like this. Of course, I have not seen it fade much in the past. I am impressed that this flower lasted long enough to fade.

5. Two buds peeking over the edge suggest that this pink rose is a floribunda too, like the peach rose #3 above. I can not identify any of the cultivars of any of these recycled roses.

6. Rhody apparently shares my disdain for carpet roses. I realize that this is not the most flattering picture, but I also realize that the worst picture of Rhody is the best of my Six.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Gopher It!

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Honey badger don’t care. Neither does the gopher who did this.

Deer do not eat all plants. There are a few that are toxic to them. There are more that deer simply dislike. With a minimal bit of research, it is not difficult to find a few lists of plant species that deer are supposed to avoid. The problem with such lists though, is that deer do not read them. Only toxic plants are reliably safe from deer.

It would not be so bad if only deer were a bit more cooperative. They would be welcome in gardens if they ate only weeds that no one wants anyway. We all know that they can eat weeds, they just choose not to do so while they are in our gardens.

For that matter, gophers would not be such a problem if they ate only weeds, and aerated only soil that needs it. Instead, they seem to target the most important plants they can find, and excavate primarily in lawns. There is no effort to cooperate.

For as long as people have been growing vegetation, whether as agricultural commodities or in landscapes, people have been competing with wildlife of one form or another, or several others. Wildlife is no more cooperative now than it was many thousands of years ago. Some animals are even less cooperative than their ancestors were. Some are downright defiant!

Gophers have been known to push traps out from their tunnels, without springing the traps. Some will emerge from their subterranean tunnels to step over the tops of root cages that are designed to exclude them, just to get to the roots within. The gopher associated with the excavation seen in the picture above was not so defiant, but was certainly undeterred.

The foliage at the center of the picture is gopher purge. Although not planted here intentionally, it used to be planted around vegetable gardens to deter gophers. It has a caustic sap that is very irritating to gophers if they try to excavate through the roots. However, the picture clearly shows excavation to the left, to the right, and behind the gopher purge.

Six on Saturday: Tracks

 

Tracking is not done for hunting here. Anyone who can hunt here would merely wait for deer or turkey to arrive as they so frequently do through the day. I only notice the tracks while they are so visible in the mud and damp soil. Most are from harmless animals. Some are from animals who control unwelcome rodents. Even notoriously destructive deer are not a problem here.

No one knows why deer avoid the landscapes here. There are no fences, so deer can come and go as they please. They are a serious problem for some of the home gardens nearby, but avoid others like they avoid our landscapes. I got these pictures outside of landscaped areas. Bobcats have never bothered anyone except the rodents who are not wanted in the landscape anyway.

I saw no tracks left by raccoons, skunks, turkeys or mountain lions, which is just fine. Mountain lions are rare, so their tracks are rarely seen around areas of human activity. The others are too lightweight to leave well defined tracks that I could get pictures of anyway. Skunks are actually beneficial to the landscapes, by eating grubs and slugs. They refrain from digging in lawns.

Turkeys are only becoming a concern because of their proliferation. The minor damage that they cause while scratching for grubs and pecking at anything colorful is likely to become a major concern when there are more of them shredding flowers, fruit and vegetation. Raccoons are more obnoxious for the messes they make with garbage than for their damage in the landscapes.

1. Deer often leave double prints, with the second set slightly back from the first. This pair seems to be single prints from different hooves that just happened to land right next to each other.00128-1

2. Bobcat prints must have appeared while the weather was still drizzly enough to mute the detail. Bobcats are common enough here for (La Rinconada de) Los Gatos to be named for them.00128-2

3. Coyote prints are fresher. They seem to be too small to be left by a coyote; but fox tracks are even smaller, and rare. Foxes are so lightweight that they leave tracks only in very soft mud.00128-3

4. Human prints are very fresh. I did not notice them on my way out, but found them on my way back. Whoever or whatever left these prints could have been dangerously close at the time!00128-4

5. Chevrolet prints over John Deere prints are also rather fresh. There are prints of Ford, Dodge and even a rare Buick in the area. It must have been quite a herd! I should track that Buick!00128-5

6. Rhody the terrier leaves no more prints than a fox, since he too is so lightweight. I tried to press his paw into the mud for this one, but he did not cooperate. This was the best we could do.00128-6

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/

Timmy in the Garden

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Tim Buck II, pronounced like ‘Timbuktu’ in Mali, but known simply as ‘Timmy’, came to live with us while he was just a baby fawn. Mr. Tim Buck Senior left Mrs. Buck to raise little Timmy alone as a single mother. Mrs. Buck then vanished, leaving little Timmy enfeebled on the side of Highway 9 south of town. No one knows what happened to Mrs. Buck. She might have been hit and killed by a car. She might have been eaten by a Mountain Lion. Somehow, she was not there to raise little Timmy.

Traffic was stopped on Highway 9 as little Timmy staggered about, either anemic, or starving from the absence of Mrs. Buck. He could barely walk, and certainly could not bound up or down the steep hillsides to leave the Highway. Most of us who stopped knew that he would not survive, and just accepted it as part of nature. However, we could not just leave him there with a few concerned children also stopped in the traffic with us. I loaded him into the back seat of the pick up and took him with me so that the children would think that he would be taken care of. I expected him to be deceased by the time I got home.

Instead, like a scene straight out of ‘Tommy Boy’, Timmy survived. He got up and was looking at me in the rear view mirror. Now what? Barbecue? I took him home to ask the neighbors.

That was too much help. They gave Timmy goat milk and groomed him of ticks, and a within a few hours, Timmy was bounding about the yard and playing with Bill the terrier, and Melly and Chewy the two cats. By nightfall, the entire herd wanted to sleep in my bed!

Timmy grew very fast and consumed quite a bit of goat milk. He craved more than milk though, and started eating my roses. (This was later in spring.) When I yelled at him to stop, he just looked at me quizzically, and continued eating. The roses did not last long. Timmy then ate the leaves off the fruit trees. Then he ate some ornamental grasses. There was not much that Timmy would not eat. When I tried chasing him off to eat in the forest, he just came right back to play with his friends and eat more of the garden. When I kept the door closed, he just came in the cat door and found his way to my bed. When I took him across the creek and down the road a bit, he just followed me back.

The funny thing is that everyone liked Timmy! He was so nice and polite, even as he destroyed the garden. That was a very bad year for gardening!

By the following spring, Timmy was spending almost all of his time out in the forest. He had depleted everything in the garden, so needed to go farther out to find vegetation within reach. He had grown very fast into a tall and lanky young buck. I slowly resumed gardening in early summer, with only minimal nibbling.

I sometimes wonder how Timmy is doing. I am pleased that he is no longer in my garden. I can enjoy growing roses again. The only thing I enjoy finding in the rose garden more than a nice healthy rose is a bitten off stub where there was about to be a rose.

Rhody

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It was not easy for me to start this blog. I do not mean that getting it set up and operating was difficult. That part was a breeze. I mean it was not easy for me to go along with the crowd and do something that is so hip, trendy and popular. I never liked trends, and I certainly do not like trends that use the internet and computers. Well, at least I get to write about gardening and horticulture. It is a topic that I happen to be good at writing about. I do not need to post pictures of puppies, kittens, babies, what I cooked for supper last night or where I went on vacation.

This is Rhody, in the picture above. He is a puppy. He is terrified of kittens, barks at babies, will eat anything that I cook for supper, and will go anywhere we might go on vacation. He can not write my blog for me because he can not type. Besides, he does not speak American English, or any other human language. He does not help in the garden much. As I said, he is a puppy.

So, there I did it. I started a blog, and posted a picture of a puppy.

Well, getting back to Rhody. He is a terrier, which literally means that he is terrestrial, or associated with the soil. In other words, he digs. His kind were bred to exterminate rodents, particularly in the soil. Rhody is just now starting to figure this out, but still needs to work on his technique. He has not started to dig for gophers, and actually seems to be more interested in getting more closely acquainted with them when they emerge from their holes and stare at him for more than a few seconds. Rhody just stares back. Perhaps his is in telepathic communication with the gophers, and is negotiating their relocation to a better home on a nearby vacant hillside.

I do not mind. It is bad enough that gophers dig in the garden. I do not need Rhody digging in the garden too.

It is the terrestrial part that Rhody does not seem to understand. He already knows that he dislikes all other rodents above the surface of the soil, such as squirrels, rabbits, deer and horses. The squirrels are not much of a problem, but the rabbits eat big patches of iceplant and other succulents, and have eaten the foliage and buds of several small potted plants. Rhody chases them off every morning.

We still need to work on Rhody’s concept of what a true ‘rodent’ is. The deer had been eating leafy plants in the garden, but have been notably absent since Rhody chased them away only a few times. I do not like him to chase the deer because I am afraid that he might actually catch one. Fortunately, he does not see them until they are already fleeing. Rhody also needs to learn to not bark at horses.

Rhody is not allowed far from the house because coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions live in the surrounding forest, and sometimes come close to home. None of them are known for pursuing dogs, but could get nasty if chased by one. I would be pleased if Rhody worked only in the garden, which happens to be close to the house.

So, in summary, posting a picture of puppy who does what he can to protect the garden from vermin is not completely irrelevant to gardening.