July 16, 2015

Please Join Me on a Garden Tour

But you'd better bring an umbrella. We've had 150 percent of our normal rainfall so far this year, so the garden is exceptionally green and lush.

The tour begins in my side yard, once shaded by a large magnolia and a double cherry tree, until the June 2012 derecho brought them both down. It's now a butterfly garden... and jungle.

Down the steps, you're in the backyard. That space was once entirely shaded by a huge, handsome hackberry tree. It's gone now, too; I may have over-watered it.

To recover from that loss, I hired the wonderful Janet Gaskins and her Landscape Design team to transform the typical grass lawn into what you see now. Over the years, we've added lots of plantings. But the basic design -- which I love -- is hers.

We also replaced the grass in the front yard with plantings. I sold the lawnmower to a neighbor about 20 years ago.

The whole setup is surprisingly low maintenance. I used to enjoy doing most of the gardening myself. These days, I mostly make suggestions to Joey, my part-time chauffeur and gardener.

I suspect Joey earns less then the lawn maintenance contractors hired by my neighbors. But one thing is sure: he is much quieter than their power mowers and leaf blowers.

Another Garden Visitor Looks for Lunch
Taken last Saturday, the photos below show the nemesis of all Washington area gardeners:

I've seen as many as five deer in my backyard at one time. But for about five years now, the hostas and other popular deer snacks have survived undamaged. My Bartlett's tree and garden contractors have devised an effective repellent spray, administered just once in the early spring.

This year has been the exception, because our monsoons have washed away the repellent. I've requested a second treatment, but it's been impossible to schedule because of our regular rainy forecasts. 

I was amused to learn that the key ingredient in the repellent is the same chemical compound used in Antabuse, the prescription medication I took to stay sober in the early days of my recovery from alcoholism. If I ever had a drink of alcohol while taking the Antabuse -- so they told me -- I'd become violently ill.

Apparently the deer's Higher Power warns them they'll suffer a similar fate if they eat my hostas.

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