Sunday, January 27, 2013

Un-wanted winter pruners

They usually visit unseen, leaving chewed-off twigs and cloven footprints in the dirt. Lately, I caught sight of a pair of them in the act. They came through a break in the overgrown Japanese ilex hedge. This was just a quick visit, a walk-through for sampling easy to reach plants along a well-trodden path. They seem particularly partial to red-twig dogwood that, I must say, has brilliant red stems in winter because of them. 

Whenever I see a white-tailed deer in the garden I’m torn between admiring their beauty and regretting their very presence.They are only just beginning to frequent gardens in this area. I have seen first-hand the damage deer can do to habitat in woodland and parks and I fear for the native plants and vegetables I plan to plant in my garden.

I cringe when I hear a duck hunter’s gunshot echo from the Sound early on a weekend morning. And, I would probably not like to hear a deer hunter’s gun even more. Besides, I’m not partial to eating venison. But how should we control the burgeoning numbers of this prevalent herbivore? Re-introduce their major predator? We have after all created the problem by reducing areas of wild land for the suburbs. Replacing forest openings with lawn and foraging material with exotic and tender plants. Meanwhile, before we ever come up with a solution I am researching fencing options.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Bright Winter's Light

When I look out on the garden on a snow-less winter’s day I appreciate the subtle colors and textures of this dormant season. Oak leaf litter, furrowed bark, straw, grey fluff of seeds, and black beads of fern have replaced the dominance of leafy green. A blue sky framed by stark tree branches seems all the more vivid. As do a cardinal’s plumage or red twigs of dogwood. In summer months I barely notice the blue on a nuthatch wing, or yellow on a white-throated sparrow. Does the tufted titmouse always sport an orange flank? At the winter bird feeder, against a muted background, the red-bellied woodpecker and all the other hungry visitors reveal their true colors. The seed heads in the meadow have been nibbled and pecked. Now the dried grass stems catch winter breezes and late-afternoon sunbeams.