Tales from the Cabin
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I See Flowers, They See Dinner

A beautiful garden and the battles with wildlife that come with it

By Jeff Wozer
Published: March 24, 2011
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Photo by stock.xchange
Experiencing life at a slower pace is the cornerstone of cabin living. It’s a lifestyle that gives license to pause and appreciate the awe of a pastel sunset. Or admire the intricacies of a dew-glossed spider web. Or, in my case, monitor the daily progressions of a simple flower garden.
   
I wanted to follow the lead of two other famous cabin dwellers, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, who both championed the artistry of flowers in their writings. Emerson wrote, “Flowers … are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all of the utilities of the world.” And Thoreau penned, “A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”
   
I learned, however, that this respect and admiration for the flower is not shared by wildlife. Especially deer  and elk. They view flowers like kids view Little Debbie Snack Cakes.
   
Last year’s wildflower garden was worthy of a Monet painting, overflowing with California poppies, fiddlenecks, tidy tips, Chinese houses, California bluebells, bird’s eyes, five-spots and beach evening primroses. But during one fateful July afternoon, a herd of elk descended upon my garden like recently rescued lost-at-sea shipmates in an all-you-can-eat buffet line. By the time I noticed their presence, my garden was stripped of wow. Nothing but leaves and stems.
   
Determined to thwart any such flower raids this season, I consulted the Internet and uncovered a list of possible solutions.
   
One advised scattering human hair around the perimeter of the garden. Apparently, deer and even rabbits cringe at the scent of our hair. But visions of my garden resembling the floor of a Supercuts dissuaded me from this prevention tip.
   
Another source recommended dangling pie tins from lines. It sounded reasonable. But after trying it, I quickly cringed. It detracted from my garden in a tacky way, resembling a clothesline for the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man. 
   
Eventually, I settled on the suggestion of spritzing my flowers with a homemade garlic spray. Initial reservations that it would frighten off the deer and elk, but create an Italian problem, were unfounded. And as of today, the eighth of July, most of my flowers remain colorfully intact.
   
I say most, because at the end of my garden closest to the forest I did notice hoof marks around a stripped petunia. Which left me wondering if for the sake of my flowers I’m now inflicting Colorado’s wildlife with heartburn.

Jeff Wozer operates from a secluded perch in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

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