We can safely say winter is over now – finally! So again I think the same thing as last year, “I’m only going to buy a few plants to put in containers on the deck.” Sure I will. Why am I skeptical? Because I get into the plant store and I can’t help myself. I buy up loads of color knowing most of them won’t survive from the hail storms, gophers, deer and grasshoppers.
But this year I’m committed to spreading beauty all around our property. Before I head out to the store, I do my research and pray for divine intervention. I’m determined the deer won’t get the best of me this year. But deer resistant plants don’t mean deer-proof. The graceful critters are beautiful to watch but they munch their way through my garden like Godzilla beating a path across town.
I’ve got to give the plants credit, however. After the wildfire, spunky survivor daylilies wrangled their way through the toasted ground to blossom despite the destruction. Their glorious orange blossoms burst forth like a busty woman breaking out of her bodice. Every year they were marvelous to look at swaying gently with the breeze. (The lilies, not the busty women.)
But horrors! As I walked out to the deck to gaze upon my beautiful lilies, I was met with the sight of naked stalks. Every blossom was gone, sheared off at the top with only a pair of petals helplessly strewn on the ground. The deer. It had to be the deer! The rabbits couldn’t reach that far up. Or could they?
Then there’s the grasshoppers. They march in formation, little machete mouths chomping through the poor defenseless plants I prayed would live to be grownups. A few even found their way onto the deck and attacked the potted flowers, carving lacy holes in leaves that ended up looking like fishnet stockings.
Every year I have hope this will be the season my flowers have a fighting chance. Surely they deserve to survive and give pleasure to all who visit. They tip their heads up at me with beautiful sunny smiles, but I choke back tears knowing they are doomed. Won’t I ever learn?
Digging in the dirt is an inherited addiction. Descended from a farming family, there was always something growing around our house (in addition to six towheaded kids). My Mom has a green thumb and unparalleled talent at rooting overgrown plants. They thrive under her care and consider it the best gig in town. My dad grew up picking bugs off the cauliflower plants and tying up the leaves to protect them from the sun. My brother grows gigantic plants and can’t bear to part with them when he runs out of room. His siblings are tired of babysitting.
While I’m not inclined to pick bugs off plants, there are weeds I do battle with. Not the skimpy, weak little root systems that give up without a fight. These are the dastardly growths with roots a foot long. They hang on with a concrete grip. They taunt me with every tug until the leaves give way and leave behind foot long roots that will grow back another day. I imagine them slowly reappearing, creeping along the ground and spreading across my manicured flower bed at night. Straight from the movie, Little Shop of Horrors, they wind their way up and crawl towards our bedroom window whining “Feed me, Seymour!”
Pray for me. I can’t help myself. Soon I’ll be back at the store for another load of flowers — and a couple bottles of deer spray.