As a Unitarian Universalist, I do my best to live according to the seven UU principles, including ‘Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.‘ This one is really important to me as a gardener, because I believe that we are all stewards of the earth.
So – All chemical fertilizers and pesticides are completely eliminated from my lawn, yard and gardens. I dig out the dandelions by hand, and just let the wild strawberries and violets grow at will. I’ve begun to use more native plant species to attract wildlife to the gardens (and it’s working, too – I’ve seen many more dragonflies and butterflies over the past two years). I was even gentle with the scary looking Black Swallowtail caterpillars that munched their way across my tomato and dill plants this summer – mostly I left them to enjoy their feast, although once or twice I relocated them to the woods where they could much on something else!
So, I had think long and hard about what to do when five lovely deer came to visit this past Thursday morning. Ah, they were so graceful as they glided silently through the woods. Keeping the interdependent web of all existence in mind, I watched as they worked their way across my carefully planted shade garden, nibbling on leaves of this plant and that. I tried to be compassionate – this lovely creatures were hungry, and I’m in their back yard, not the other way around!
But alas, I had to draw the line when two of the fawns descended upon my much-loved oakleaf hydrangeas. These are perhaps my favorite shrubs in all the garden. I planted them in the spring just after finishing my Shrubs II course at Longwood, and I’ve tended them painstakingly through the wretched summer heat. I’ve waited patiently for the hydrangeas to grow large enough to flower (evidently not this year, but certainly next). And now, I eagerly anticipate the beautiful fall color that they will soon develop.
So, I must admit – I dropped the link in the interdependent web of all existence at that moment. I opened the window, shouted at the deer to move along, and watched regretfully as they glided away.
Next spring, I’ll have to ring the shade garden with some other aromatic shrub to keep the deer at bay. But as recompense, I’ll also plant something delicious for them to enjoy – just far enough north in the woods that they will stay the heck away from my hydrangeas!