Sunday, July 1, 2012

Welcome to my Zoo

Yesterday on my group blog, Jungle Red Writers, Rosemary Harris posted wonderful pictures of her garden--a stunning three acres of blooming plants. I was green with envy, living on a steep California hillside where not much will grow until I realized that I have what she doesn't have: I have a zoo.

My garden borders the open space above--no fences, just a row of oleanders, and there is rarely a time when there are no animals around. This morning I watched a mama deer and two tiny fawns working their way along the ivy where the gardener had trimmed it back yesterday, leaving good new shoots exposed. It's funny because I'm looking down on them so they don't feel at all threatened. (If I were a mountain lion, I'd hide in a tree and leap down on them!)

I've never seen a mountain lion in our yard, but I know the hill above is their territory and every now and then I have heartache when I see a deer with one baby fawn and know that last week there were twins. We do have coyotes in abundance. I've never seen one on our property but sometimes at night their calls sound so close that I picture them sitting under my bedroom window.

I have seen a fox, however. When my mother was visiting once from Australia we sat on the patio with a glass of wine her first evening here. While we were sitting some deer poked their heads over the patio fence. A fox ran along the top of the fence. And a snake slithered out from between pots. "It's like living in a bloody zoo," my mother commented.

And I suppose it is. I know we have skunks because my daughter's dog got sprayed by one the day before her wedding (and future son in law and I stood in the bathtub trying to cover the frightened dog in tomato juice. He kept shaking until the bathroom looked like Pyscho! And we have racoons too. We hear them fighting and growling sometimes after dark. And there is a Red Tailed Hawks nest in the tree below us. A group of birders showed up on my doorstep once, asking to observe from my balcony. I took them through and was quite happy to let them look through their binoculars until I found out they wanted to set up a permanent observation platform there.... uh, I don't think so.

So we have admitted defeat in trying to create a beautiful garden. We grow what they won't eat and enjoy watching the animals instead. How about you--any suggestions for keeping deer at bay?


  1. I live in Michigan, and we have deer trouble, too. Apparently, if you save your hair clippings from getting your hair cut (or the hair you lose in the shower or while combing it) and put it on the ground around the plants that the deer are bothering, they will leave it alone. I think cat or dog fur also does the trick. There is also some natural thing you can put on the ground that emits an odor that deer find foul. It has a sulpheric smell to it that human noses won't smell after a couple of days, but the deer will still smell it and stay away from your plants. I don't know what it's called, though. My friend was telling me how well it worked in her garden. ~Kimberly

  2. We too have coons in abundance. I was watching tv one evening and heard a tapping on the window that looks out on our back deck. Two little coon faces looked imploringly at me but I did not invite them into the air conditioning. I hear them at night on the deck; don't know if they're fighting or having a romance.