Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not-so-sweet surrender

Reemay on a pitchfork was meant to be a temporary scarecrow. Now it's simply a symbol of surrender.
I'm over it now. Really. I am. Over. It.

Disappointment hung thick around here for a couple of days. Overnight, the much-anticipated Dutch crocus extravaganza was gone. Those bright, bold, sassy Crocus optimistas are now in the bellies of the almost-resident deer herd.
 The Dutch crocus show was off to a good start.
I thought everything was OK. The show was just opening; I sprinkled Milorganite. The live trap was set in a strategic position in case of rabbits. I feasted my eyes on what already was and imagined the potential. Although the deer had been noticeably absent in recent days, we made plans to spray Plantskydd, a nasty but generally effective animal deterrent with dried blood as a main component. 

The deer must have overheard our plans. They came in the night before the planned spraying and by morning the blossoms were gone. Those sweet, silky cups of color had been neatly excised, along with the tips of their foliage.
 Foliage stubs are all that's left. The plants aren't completely toast; hopefully we'll get more foliage growth this spring for another try at blooming next year.
Other than a serious (make that expensive!) fence, there's really very little that stands between a hungry deer and a tender morsel. I'm not sure the Plantskydd would have been completely effective although it certainly would have helped. I mean, really, even if sprayed with repellent, a patch of succulent, fresh blooms would be hard to resist after a steady diet of brown twigs. 

A motion-activated sprinkler might have worked, but those are useful only when there's no danger of frost at night. Still a little too early for that.
So the crocus are gone, but the nighttime binge did reveal the results of an experiment. Last fall, we planted some Scilla siberica, also called Siberian squill, among the crocus. Scilla has a reputation for being deer-resistant so I (reluctantly) agreed to planting some in the crocus berm. The scilla appear none the worse for the marauding.

It's a tough call. Design-wise, I like the crocus on the berm where they make a statement viewed up close and at a distance. But the location makes it difficult to manage for wildlife. Scilla is pretty, naturalizes well and, given time, could make a nice statement, too. I suspect we'll be planting a lot more of it in the crocus berm come fall.
Scilla (right) is undamaged. Little is left of the crocus (left).

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