All design work must be refined with repetition.  Less is most always more.  Better materials can be found and used, those more compatible with their function.  These are good choices for the planet, and help keep that money in your vacation fund.

I must say that it is amazing how little boundary one must construct to keep a deer from eating your bushes.  They seem not to need a whole lot of suggestion.  Tree-pees have solved the deer problem for me for years, even with bushes fairly enveloping the support.


This tree-pee is three or four years old.  The snowball bush and the tree-pee have a sympathetic relationship.  They are one!  There is nandina, lilies: ginger and not, and a couple of other things planted in the space of the circle that the bush does not use.  Interestingly, every fall a couple of the snowballs bloom.  But in the fall, they are flat like little discs, rather than exhibiting their Seuss-like splendor in the spring.  You can see two blooms above.

At the farm down my running route, they simply put a small plastic ribbon on a wire about four feet off the ground and maybe every six to eight feet down the line.  That does it for a whole field planted with something deer love.  Amazing.

I use cedar from our woods as much as possible as that wood will last longer than any other around here.  The jagged protrusions I cannot help but think serve my purpose as well.


This tree-pee rests on the side of the woods and protects an oak leaf hydrangea.  This was propagated by me, one of about 12 starts.  Only this one survived, and with the way the deer love this plant, I am interested in defending only one.


This pyracantha is well protected by this heavy tree-pee.  The bush is doing all it can to attract bad visitors, but all that showiness is unsuccessful.  A Japanese climbing fern asserts itself on the rightmost piece of cedar.  There are also day lilies in this bed, and all to the left are tiny iris, purple; I call them Japanese, but that name is wrong.  They are however the iris one sees on Japanese byobu.


So here is the new reduced-in-design tree-pee.  Again it houses a pyracantha, one propagated by me.  It was tiny when it was planted;  I fairly crocheted a little string net around it.  And as it grew,  bigger uprights were piled around it, and when my cat knocked the whole thing down last week, it had needed to go for months.

So what is different here?  Had my best idea in a year when looking  for three uprights.  Seeing one of the awful woods vines we have here that grow to a hundred feet and compete with almost any kind of tree, I realized that the cut vine would be flexible and would simply wind around the uprights, and wherever it crossed, it could be tied.  Simple.  And that is just what I did.  The tension created by the winding of that almost-live thing is quite extraordinary.  And the spiral extends beyond the uprights according to its own will.

Then the vine ended.  It was too short for the whole job.  Could not find another because a rampage was conducted (by me) last spring cutting all those vines in the front woods, and a fire ensued which provided much satisfaction.  So a very young tree, growing too close to another was clipped and it worked in the very same way!


These snowball bushes are just amazing.  I wish we had a Dr. Seuss-like forest of them.  They are correctly called Chinese Viburnum, and shouldn’t be mistaken for hydrangeas which also bear the common name of snowball bush (which is why we need to use the latin words).

The habit is different between the two, even though they both have sphere-like flowers, and the Chinese Viburnum interfaces better with the tree-pee made to combat deer.


Taken today, this viburnum is at a little less maturity than peak.  Each snowball starts out light green and slowly whitens.


Have not noticed any evidence of a deer being near this tree-pee.  I consider this a cure!


Immature nandina are just behind the spikes that foil the deer.


A patch of ajuga blooms in one area.  This bush can reach 20 feet high; cannot wait!  It asks me for nothing bu protection, very easy.



My advice is to do what I always do when battling problems.  Throw a little creativity into the mix.  Add, even if you are subtracting.  Less can be more.

With ice, it is the continual hauling and burning that makes one crazy.  Building something feels so much better, especially if you can repurpose what Nature chose to eliminate.


This lonely start of a garden has been ignored for a decade or more.  It has possibilities, because the berm on which the evergreens are planted is higher than the rest of this sandy beach of acreage.  What it actually is, is the dirt that was removed to lay the foundation for the studio.  When we bought this place, it had been sitting there since 1978!   The trees which used to live in the footprint of the studio were likewise ignored and piled up in another place.  First thing I did as an owner was to burn all that up, becoming a conflagration professional.


For a while, we had three tree-pees of cedar supporting scoppernong grape vines behind the low evergreens on the berm,  but they did not grow well and I hate those grapes anyway.   When the ice was finished and we started to clean up I tore those out,  plus the vines and other scrubby interlopers.  In a way, the ice made it easier to see what had to be removed.


Strange, but much of the lanky unwanted stuff stealing the sun from a fine volunteer magnolia to the left of this picture, were about five small tree trunks growing from each of the damaged and felled trees during our MAJOR ice storm of 2004.  After clearing away this time, we painted the cuts with a chemical that will kill them.


This berm garden will mirror another long garden which is between the studio and the house;  a helpful “repeat” in the allover landscape composition.


The outside wall surrounding the pool is not pleasing in winter, and since it lost the biggest red bud last week, it is even sadder.  You can see the remaining trunk at the leftmost section of the wall.  These three red buds, one in each section between columns,  were a study in sunlight.  The surrounding woods affected the trio dramatically, the now lost tree ten times the size of the tree at the right.


Above are some sections of the big red bud tree, doing another job in the landscape.  The surrounding of the circular gardens with logs started in 2004, in a former effort to feel better about all the ice damage.  We now add trunks to these circular boundaries whenever the woods provide.



Slightly sad when the power was finally connected, the emotion was surprising.  From Tuesday to Saturday my mind and experience was in the space connecting a book (two books really) and an ice storm.


Knowledge is finding unknown connections between things, said the first female president of the University of Chicago, Hannah Gray, many of my lives ago.  Only now do I realize (plus the fact that the statement was remembered)  how pivotal these connective spaces are to me.  Could have had another life following that path.

I had been waiting for February 11 for a long time.  My current obsession is with hiking the Appalachian Trail including losing myself and testing myself.   The zen of activity.  Turns out 2/11 was a very busy day.  Finished hanging an exhibition looking skyward at ice, and attended the evening event for which I had been waiting.

Odyssa was coming to Orangeburg.  The big turnout was a tribute to her as we all prepared for the upcoming storm.


Jennifer Pharr Davis spoke about so much more than exploring the trail.  She talked about achievement, oneness, surprising your limits, regulating yourself, looking in, looking out.  Making art does this to your mind.  I want to use my body for this too.

This young woman has found her perfect creative place, and cast a career around it.  She was inspiring, and we all went out into the first ice that evening blasting through our boundaries.

But she had led me further.  Deep into another book  “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, a person my age, another perspective was given.  There is of course, not only one way to do things.  Each person’s way is perfect for them.

a walk in the woods

Bryson, and I was reading this book during the quarantine of the ice storm, speaks a lot about the life of the mind and soul on the trail, the strangeness of civilization when embraced for a break from the trail, and trying to keep a foot (so to speak) in both places.  He struggles.


At the point of the fourth day without power and phone during the ice storm, I am no longer trying to switch on lights.  Enjoying the heating of water and cooking of food on a camp stove, a pattern of activity is emerging.  Hot water on my face is a delight.  Hauling fallen trees has replaced my running.  I am thinking about that trail doing all this work.


I cooked two pounds of bacon yesterday morning, because it had to be, and after the meal clean up (a seriously late breakfast of bacon cheeseburgers), we were going to boil three chickens in a huge pot made for dipping turkeys in grease (hate the idea, love the pot).

Our friend drove up, the son of a neighbor, and said we would have power in 15 minutes.  We were just lighting the burner for the chicken.  We looked at each other.  We didn’t have to do it.  I felt a loss.


Jennifer Davis described last Tuesday night the instant  she knew she had to hike the trail for an overall record (not just a women’s record).  She had hiked, sixteen hours a day the 2100 some miles, faster than any woman.  She touched that metal plate on the mountain in Georgia and she still had energy and strength in her body at that moment.  She had not been tested enough, and that was the germ of the new idea.

Yesterday, I felt the same way.


If you could have seen this acreage years ago, you would not believe what has been accomplished.  The series of circular gardens were born out of our huge two night ice storm,  around 2004.

The damage was devastating.  It was the worst natural event that I was “lucky” enough to live through, even with Hurricane Hugo in our history.

As with my cancer problems, I turned the physical mess into art.  It was then that this series of circular gardens were born; for months damage was burned, FEMA picked up a lot, but some defined these gardens.  Removing the damage was turned into a creative effort, and it was then that work did not seem so awful.

For me, with cancer, and with other problems, it is all left to art.  Or sometimes running.  It is in these venues that problems begin to be understood, and it always takes physical involvement.  Maybe the problems just perspire away!  Finding huge fallen trees long and lean enough for me to haul was just what was needed to turn this huge problem into something i wanted to do.  And it was free!

There are six of these circles on this side of the house, and a long parenthesis-shaped garden along side the middle circles. There are spaces between them large enough for the lawn tractor to get through.

This is the front garden from the line of circles and the newest one in this area.  This is yesterday.  It has a getting-bigger-all-the-time snowball bush in the center, and it had two pretty fabulous snowballs this spring.  It is the only one of three that has survived.  The deer love this bush.

Behind the circle, you can see that there are three posts with blue bottles hanging on.  There used to be a cedar fence along that line, which we removed yesterday;  it was getting a little worn, and my husband found cutting around it less than fun.

We took the parts of the fence, and made a tee-pee over the snowball bush garden to hopefully keep the deer from getting in close enough to snack.  If they needed the food last winter, what would happen when we have a normal winter?  This winter, even my annuals did not die.

This is the same garden this morning, with a tee-pee like barrier for the deer.  I have tried this before, unsuccessfully, but this is bigger and stands a greater chance of fending off the deer.  On one side, for an experiment, one side was left more open, but at the base,  we put lots of cedar bits with lethal looking side branches, standing up.  This winter we will see which idea is more successful.

Below is a Yoshino cherry tree which has been battling the deer for several years now.  Today we will make a better, bigger barrier.  Poor thing has never bloomed.