No deer wel­come here

Alberta Gardener Magazine - - Contents - By Heather Klein

Nes­tled on the es­carp­ment of Fish Creek Pro­vin­cial Park in Cal­gary, Linda Walker’s English coun­try gar­den has been 30 years in the mak­ing. When Linda first moved to her home, she didn’t know a lot about gar­den­ing in Cal­gary, so she joined the lo­cal hor­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety. With monthly gar­den tours and many other gar­den­ing en­thu­si­asts who were more than will­ing to share their knowl­edge, Linda’s gar­den got its start.

Right from the be­gin­ning, Linda knew that she had a big prob­lem. With a large pro­vin­cial park in her back­yard, the deer found her gar­den full of yummy sur­prises. Linda would of­ten come out to her gar­den in the morn­ing to see what had bloomed, only to find that the deer had pol­ished the flow­ers off dur­ing the night. Many of Linda’s neigh­bours had built high fences to keep the deer out but Linda de­cided to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. “I didn’t want my back­yard feel­ing like Fort Knox,” she says, “so I de­cided to take a more pas­sive ap­proach. Any­thing that the deer ate, I dug up and gave away.” Ini­tially Linda re­sented hav­ing to give up her beau­ti­ful lilies, tulips and other flow­ers that the deer en­joyed but even­tu­ally she grew to en­joy the challenge of grow­ing, not nec­es­sar­ily what she wanted, but what the deer wouldn’t eat.

Find­ing plants that didn’t at­tract the deer re­quired a lot of trial and er­ror. Linda found that many plants that were la­belled “deer re­sis­tant” didn’t seem to de­ter the deer that were fre­quent­ing her yard at all, so it took time to dis­cover what worked in her own yard. Over the years Linda has

found many beau­ti­ful plants that are now flour­ish­ing in her gar­den. Once she finds a fam­ily of plants that are deer re­sis­tant she buys them in ev­ery va­ri­ety she can find. Cat­mint is one of her favourites and she has six dif­fer­ent kinds, as well as a host of dif­fer­ent pe­onies. The most prom­i­nent plant in her gar­den though, is monks­hood, which she has in dif­fer­ent varieties and colours that will bloom at dif­fer­ent times of the sea­son.

There is a plant in her gar­den that

the deer still love though, and that is her clema­tis, of which she has more than 30 varieties. She grows them in obelisks pro­tected by fish­net, which has worked well to pro­tect them from the deer. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a stray flower pokes through the fish­net and the deer gets a treat.

With a path that leads from the back to the front of her home, the deer have di­rect ac­cess to both her and her neigh­bour’s front yards. This means that the front yard has to be deer re­sis­tant too, so two pots of fi­brous be­go­nias are the only an­nu­als that Linda keeps in her yard.

Linda, who taught school for 39 years and has been re­tired since 2009 has more time now to travel around Western Canada look­ing for deer re­sis­tant plants that she doesn’t have. She loves tak­ing gar­den tours and has trav­elled ex­ten­sively in Canada as well as around the world tak­ing in beau­ti­ful gar­dens whereever she goes. She loves shar­ing her ideas with other gar­den­ers and cred­its the Cal­gary Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety and its mem­bers with help­ing get her gar­den to where it is to­day.

The park like set­ting makes a per­fect spot for a gazebo.

Linda Walker.

With over 30 dif­fer­ent pe­onies in her gar­den, this Gay Pa­ree is Linda's favourite.

Cat­mint, or nepeta, blooms most of the sum­mer.

Fox­glove in shades of pink.

Bee balm (Monarda) is an­other plant the deer leave alone.

Gas plant releases an odour that deer hate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.