NATURAL PARTNERS

We have masses of dead cedar in our woods, in various stages from just dead to very dead.  And we also have lots of deer.  Turns out cedars and deer are one of nature’s juxtapositions:  if you have deer, you are going to need lots of cedar to keep them out of your gardens.

1-cedar tree

It is amazing how light and how strong cedar is.  With the right engineering, a protective pyramid can be built around bushes and young trees that deer can’t leave alone.

1-onnnnnnnnnn

I have taken to placing cedar not only as a screen, but am trying to interfere with the deers’  footing down below.  On the back of this circle branches with mean short limbs are pointing up.  The red bush is nandina which deer do not eat, but behind it is a snowball bush, which they love.  The snowball looks very shabby and lifeless this time of year, but it will be magnificent in the spring.

1-better cedar

1-cedat group

So all manner of cedar branches are helpful, and cost nothing.    I know that is a pine to the right.  It was just so straight, and it will be helpful as a base.  True, it will disintegrate before the cedar, but all these gardens have to be refreshed every year or so.  The deer knock the branches out of place.

1-azaleas

Gardens like this are spotted along the sandy driveway with woods on either side.  They have either azaleas (very small now) or loropetalum in them.  Some of these gardens do not get enough sun.   The size of the bushes vary dramatically.  These gardens do not need pyramids as the deer don’t eat loropetalum, and only rarely bother azaleas ( there is some crunching now and again).

1-loro

The loropetalum are full of buds here.

1-big branch

1-another garden

I painstakingly worked to propagate 12 slips of pyracantha last summer.   It wasn’t going well.  Ended up buying a small one, which is now protected by a pyramid of cedar.  Only one of my slips survived and it was doing sooooo well once it was placed in the ground.   The deer had not discovered it yet, and I was hoping that the new little garden where it lives would remain undiscovered to them.  NOT!

1-jail

I had to resort to a milk crate for its protection.  A tiny pyramid simply would not do.  That bad deer ate three inches of its hard fought four inches!

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AM I A TRAVEL AGENT?

Back at home in SC, this picture from yesterday, travel day, seems like a dream.

1-snow

A bad dream.  But the holiday trip to the Midwest was the finest of bad dreams.  The snow and ice we experienced was like this:  beautiful, untouched and viewed from inside our car which was going at normal speed.  What I most love about snow is how it reveals the forest floor, which one can never see in the summer.  Ice defines the lines of the branches of deciduous trees, snow fills out the big shapes of the evergreens, and traces the forest floor.  Defined by snow and ice, the whole forest makes a fantasy-like sense.  In the summer, the woods are deep and spongy like one alive but unreadable shape.

We all know about last winter.  Here in SC, where we live with the most marginal of heat sources (gas log, occasional space heater) it was all so marvelous.  We could be outside all winter.  Making soup in the kitchen was enough to get warm (having lived without real heat for 7-8?? years, I now understand about making soup, washing dishes just after dinner [think 1945]; it makes so much warm sense).  Eating soup was enough to get warm.

1-horses

Contrast this picture above with the Midwestern winter; they were taken the same day.  My daughter’s two horses have a visit with the mother and grandmother of one.  They have warm sunshine and grass to eat.  Nice little vacation for two horses from Virginia.

1-garretts tree

Yesterday was Garrett’s sixteenth birthday, and we planted this little magnolia in celebration of that.  We have so many trees that stay green all winter here.

1-new tee-pee

It is also warm enough to finish the construction of our third tee-pee which protects certain bushes and trees from the deer.  I feel so lucky to have so much cedar, dead and alive, on our acreage.  It is beautiful and can do so many jobs.

1-two finished

This winter is not over of course, but here we are not seeing much difference from the moderation of last winter.