It’s one of the questions I am asked most often: what can I do about deer (or rabbits, or groundhogs, or squirrels, or …)?
And I get it. Sometimes garden making can feel like fighting a losing battle. I rarely feel a sense of deep hatred, but I admit to feeling exactly that for the groundhogs who devastated my dahlias and the deer who feasted on my baby Franklinia tree.
It’s enough to make you cry.
Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right solution: investing in a tall fence with wire mesh buried a foot beneath the soil, for instance. You might try weekly spraying with a homemade garlic solution or growing certain prized plants–like tulips–only in high-traffic areas near the house. But more than solutions, I’ve learned that what I need most in my garden is perspective. Instead of zooming in on the “problem,” I need to take a step back and look for the bigger picture.
I might lose my lilies to rabbits, but those baby rabbits are the cutest things in my yard. Japanese Beetles are an annual nightmare, and I will never forgive them for eating up my rosebuds, but there’s no getting rid of them completely. They are a fact of my gardening life. Instead, of wasting more energy on hatred, I adjust: planting more antique roses that bloom once in profusion before the beetles show up, and avoiding white roses, which they seem to particularly love.
Taking time to seek a more holistic perspective also helps me to be patient and observe the natural balancing tendencies of my garden, rather than swooping in to spray and control. I can’t have the beneficial bugs and birds in my garden if there are no pests for them to eat. I’m learning to look at some pests as a food source I actually do want in my garden.
Meanwhile, I am also planting more things in the garlic / onion / and chive families. It seems that very few animals want to have garlic breath.