Once I woke up, I remembered that following the flurry of blog posts on drip irrigation in June (Irrigation basics, Controllers, Drip for trees) it has been very quiet on this website. This does not mean that I can only appreciate dry, native plant gardens of Southern California. No, no, no! The rain and moisture in the Pacific Northwest allow for some truly amazing gardens.
Of course, the issues gardeners face here are very different than those in So Cal. Yes, water is plentiful. However, the layer of soil is nearly non-existent due to the scouring of the island by glaciers. The abundance of Douglas fir and other trees provides shade. It also makes it difficult to dig into the little bit of soil that exists. And finally, the deer eat most new, and many older, plants.
This last problem is one faced by gardeners in California as well. When I answered questions for the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden hotline, this was a biggy: “What can I plant that the deer won’t eat?” The answer is, not a lot! A hungry deer will eat almost anything and they especially like young plants. So even “deer resistant” plants may start out as favored appetizers when first planted.
The solution, if you want to call it that, is to fence the plants in and the deer out. This is certainly appropriate for gardens that feature ornamental and edible plants. Somehow, though, it seems silly for native plant habitat gardens. Yes, one can fence the saplings until they get large enough to be stronger and less delicious. Deer, though, love almost everything, so this is very limiting. My current strategy is to enjoy the gardens of others on the island. I buy fresh veggies from the farmer’s market and small farms, grow a small number of herbs in pots on the back deck. Right now I am sitting back and relaxing. Not sure when the gardening bug will bite me, but in the meantime I am enjoying the beauty that surrounds me.