Of deer and roses

The Souvenir de la Malmaison is struggling in the heat of July to put back its leaves after they were eaten by hungry deer. The deer have finally been shut out of the backyard by three 8X4-foot pieces of treated cedar lattice.

It seems like yesterday but it was two weeks ago when a tall red oak on the south lot line finally gave it up and collapsed from rottenness onto the privacy fence of the backyard. I was up late reading and heard the noise but, being a little deaf, I wasn’t sure what it was, and I went on reading.

I found out the next day that the tree’s upper branches had landed on the garage roof, messing up a few shingles but otherwise doing little damage, though the roof repair folks want about $500 to fix it all. Our good neighbor on the south side offered to pay half the cost of removing the tree and pushing back up and renailing the fence, and that was done, but it still left a good piece of old lattice which had been connected to the fence, to be repaired. And that’s where the white-tailed deer began getting in at night. They already stalk the neighborhood to eat ornamental plants and drink water from bird baths–and corn from sympathetic but unwise neighbors. So they came in at night to chew on the antique rose bushes, the geraniums, and Mr. Boy’s potted bean plant from kindergarten.

Several mornings I was awakened to news that deer were in the back yard and I had to go herd them back to the hole in the fence so they would leave. Never saw more than two at one time, but two at one time was plenty. After I bought one piece of the lattice to plug the hole, deer started jumping over the fence, the ground on the south neighbor’s side being higher than the ground on our side, to get at the rose leaves–which they consider candy. When they found they couldn’t jump back, they got pretty frantic, running back and forth, until I would come out and herd them toward the north-side fence which has a gate I could open for them to exit.

So I bought the other two pieces of lattice (taller than the fence by two feet or so) and nailed them up where the deer were jumping over and that seems to have settled that. Now it only remains for the Souvenir and the other antique roses (Ducher, Hermosa, Louis Philippe, Zephirine Drouhin and Rouletii) to put back their leaves and maybe a bloom or two in the hottest time of the year.

But they’ll make it. They’re hardy. Watering them every couple of days helps. 

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