Tag Archive | red deer

Plants in cages

The problem with sharing your garden with a host of wildlife is that quite a lot of it is intent on eating all my plants!

 

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Rabbits seem to like to have a nibble at anything new, and if they like it, they will eat the lot. But plants that have been sampled one year (and survived) seem to be less likely to be nibbled the next. Maybe it is the rich lush tasty foliage that the plants grow while in the nursery greenhouses that they like, and the tougher, garden-grown leaves are less appealing.

The solution therefore seem to be to protect anything remotely juicy for at least its first season. I have a couple of old hanging baskets that are ideal for this.

 

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These Tanacetum ‘Robinson’s Red’ should give a display of big daisies in the summer, but only if the rabbits leave them alone. If they get nibbled more, then I will upgrade the protection to the next stage…

 

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This Rhododendron ‘Blue Tit’ is not supposed to be attractive to rabbits or deer, but the last little rhododendron that I planted in this spot was eaten to the ground! So I am taking no chances with this one, and it has a cage of chicken wire, with a few wires criss-crossing the top to deter deer. It shouldn’t outgrow this cage for a couple of years, by which time it should be less tasty.

For bigger shrubs, I am having to build bigger cages.

 

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I treated myself to a lovely Magnolia ‘Susan’, and do not want it eaten, as it wasn’t cheap. So it has a 5 ft cage of deer netting to protect it for a few years. The netting needs to be at least 5 foot, and preferably 6ft, as the deer we have are not just little muntjac, or medium sized roe deer. No, we get the big ones, the red deer.

 

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They have not been seen in the garden quite as often this year as last year, and I think our increasing activity levels in the garden puts them off. But after 4 days away last week, we returned to find three sitting in the middle of the lawn.

The ultimate solution, which we are using to keep them off the veggies and fruit, is a Big Fence…

 

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They aren’t going to get into there! We haven’t managed to get all of the potager dug yet this year, but as we get a section cleared of the grass and roots and stones, we sow seeds. And we now have radishes, beets, mangetout, spinach and leeks all sprouting. It is very exciting!

 

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Trees are yet another problem. We have standard tree guards around some small native trees and shrubs, but as soon as they poke their heads above the guards, then they run the risk of being eaten.

 

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This little rowan had nice tall shoots before the deers’ visit last week, and now it has been eaten down to the guard. So we need a better solution, which might be to make cages like the shrub cages. It does make planting trees very costly.

My next challenge is to find a solution to slugs. We don’t use pellets, and hand-picking takes too long. I have tried some barrier methods with varying success, but currently I am just avoiding buying certain plants, such as hostas (obviously), delphiniums, lupins, and aubrieta.

Gardening here is a bit of a battle!

 

Plenty to do!

This morning dawned bright and sunny, so I took a walk up the hill beyond the garden. I was only out half an hour, and that included five minutes reflection on the bench at the top, overlooking the valley. I saw our little herd of 7 deer again, and was amazed to see a tawny owl fly right past me only a few feet away, then down the lane before disappearing into the wood. What a treat!

I have an ever increasing list of jobs to do in the garden, and many of them get started, but not finished, which is frustrating. This is not because I give up, or get distracted. Below is the ‘black hole’ where we removed a thicket of Rosa rugosa. I have started raking it over to remove all the twigs and roots that are scattered all over, which also then reveals any roots that have not been dug up. These are then pulled out. This makes it a back-breaking job.

 

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You may be able to see (if you are looking at this on a proper screen rather than a piddly phone screen) the difference between the smoother top half and the rubbish strewn lower half. I can only do a couple of hours work at this, as it is just so hard on my back. So that is still to be finished.

 

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This was a shrubby honeysuckle, a messy evergreen that doesn’t flower, which was just spoiling the shrubs around it and blocking our views of the garden. So it was cut down, but now the roots need digging out – another job needing a strong back. I am quite capable of doing these jobs, but I just have to pace myself. If my back starts to hurt, these jobs have to wait until it feels better.

In between digging jobs, we have been getting on with the Spring pruning, and the buddleias and hydrangeas are now all done. But I still have a few dogwoods to tackle.

 

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This one looks like it has never been pruned, so rather than lots of thick strong attractive red shoots, it has a brown trunk and some thin red twigs. I hope I can improve it.But pruning has been shunted aside as I have bought rather a lot of plants lately, so have been planting instead. It is all about priorities, and they are constantly changing.

We have had a tree surgeon round to deal with our storm damaged tree, and he did a neat job of trimming the snags. And now I have a heap of branches of assorted sizes to sort into logs to be sawn up for the woodburner, branches to use as kindling, and the rest for the bonfire.

 

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And then there is the shed…

 

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When it rains, there is a puddle on the roof where the roof is so bowed. That then leaks through the flimsy roof, soaking one corner so that it is rotten and horrid. It had to go. So we have a lovely new shed!

 

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Isn’t it nice?? Ok, well it will be.

This job is actually nearly finished. We dismantled the old shed yesterday morning, and saved the sides to make a compost bin out of. Then we assembled the new one, all but the roof. This morning the roof went on, but it still need the roofing felt. It has been hard work, especially carrying all the pieces up the steps to the garden, but the end result is worth it. You will have to wait until it is completed , then I will show you a photo.

 

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A garden of surprises

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Our garden is full of surprises at the moment, delighting us with something new every week. We still have masses of daffodils of many types, and they are standing up to the weather now, so I don’t have to go round and rescue the flattened ones. I am still picking a bunch for the kitchen though, as there are just so many that the garden won’t miss them. I have found a clump of pretty peachy trumpets.

 

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And on the front lawn is one clump of double daffs – not my favourite type, but it is good to have the variety

 

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The crocuses are also doing really well with the improvement in the weather.

 

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Some of our mystery deciduous shrubs have burst into bloom. One small shrub with a very elegant, delicate shape has shown itself to be a Corylopsis, and is covered in creamy bells. Beautiful!

 

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Another large shrub has revealed itself as a flowering currant, which is a shrub that I always like to have in a garden, so that is great news. The flowers are still not fully open, but are a superb colour.

 

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We have added yet another mammal to our garden list, as a badger ran across in front of the car the other evening, and up our steps into the garden. It was exciting, as I can count on one hand the number of badgers I have ever seen, but it is a mixed blessing as they can be destructive, and I don’t really need anything else digging holes in the garden! The rabbits are bad enough – this is supposed to be my herb bed, right  by the kitchen door, and a big fat doe dug a massive burrow before we could stop her…

 

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We have filled it in. Grrr. There is also signs of nibbling on one of my new plants, so I have caged it with twigs, and will see if that deters them.

 

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I have finally seen the deer in the garden during daylight, with a herd of seven grazing on the lawn late one afternoon. I have excellent views, but by the time I had fetched the camera they had boinged over the fence and were staring at me from next doors field.

 

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I still have many bulbs yet to flower, and shrubs whose identities I cannot decipher from their twigs, so the garden has plenty more surprises for us to discover. What will tomorrow bring?

 

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Caught on camera

We have a camera trap, or trail cam. It is waterproof, and straps to a tree, and is triggered by motion. We have left it in one spot at the far end of our garden for a couple of weeks, and these are a selection of the best photos. The night time shots are blurry due to the difficulty of taking photos at night without using lights which would scare off the animals. I think it is exciting to see what happens when we are not there.

 

blackbird feb 16

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fox feb 16

 

Jay jan 16

 

Pheasant feb 16

 

Squirrel feb 16

 

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There were quite a few pictures of deer, with a maximum of four in one shot. Most were a bit of a head, or a backside, or a blur of fast-moving shapes. I am still waiting for a group shot of deer grazing in daylight. That would be very nice!

Another one for the mammals list!

Our mammals list for the garden is not huge – Red deer, squirrel, rabbit, fox. We hope to add hedgehog and maybe roe deer at some point, and there are definitely small mice or voles, but we are yet to catch a glimpse of them. But today we had a superb visitor – a stoat, and right by the house, no less.

 

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It was interesting to watch him wiggle his way in and out of our log pile, popping his head up to check for danger, then disappearing again, only to emerge somewhere else. They are just so flexible. This is what we love about living in the countryside; being surrounded by such a wide variety of wildlife.

Our one big fat rabbit is now two big fat rabbits, so who knows how quickly they will produce lots of little rabbits. The stoat could come in very useful in keeping them in check, as they love a rabbit or three. I may love wildlife, but I don’t want all my precious plants nibbled by rabbits!

I am away for the next week, visiting family, so won’t be rambling on about Devon until I get back. Talk to you then!

Caught on camera!

I have mentioned before that we get red deer in the garden. Their tracks are everywhere, and some of the shrubs show signs of nibbling. We have only caught glimpses of them actually in the garden, but have seen them in the field at the back.

We set up a camera trap just after Christmas, in the hope of getting some photographs of the deer and any other wildlife passing through. For the first few weeks we only had pictures of branches waving in the wind, me trudging to and from the bonfire, and a fuzzy squirrel. But there were also fewer fresh deer tracks. We think that our new scent and increased garden activity has deterred the deer to some extent. But then…

 

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Not the best shot, I know, but definitely a red deer. We will hopefully get better pictures in the future.

Our twelve female pheasants are still visiting us every day, pecking around under the bird feeders. But now that Spring is approaching they are getting pestered by this chap.

 

 

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He chases them round in circles, but they are currently not interested. Personally I think he is rather handsome. I bet he would be tasty too 😉

 

 

Getting to know the neighbours…

Our human neighbours are all lovely, but of much more interest to me is the wildlife that lives in and around the garden. Apparently pheasants are reared locally for shooting, but every day more and more of them are finding that our garden is not only a gun-free zone, but comes with free food!

 

 

I keep finding small holes and tunnels in our slate garden walls, which I am assuming make safe, dry homes for small mammals of some sort.

 

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It is very obvious that we get large numbers of red deer in the garden. There are tracks everywhere, as well as nibbled shoots. Precious new plants will have to be protected! This hydrangea has been stripped.

 

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We have caught glimpses of them, but are yet to get a good view of them. These tracks below are just made by deer!

 

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Last but by no means least, this chubby chap is a regular visitor, and remarkably undisturbed by my presence!

 

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