Mid-Winter Transitions

Beth tilling our new garden in 1976

This winter is cause to take note of this old photo of a very pregnant Beth demonstrating her best one handed tilling technique with what was our most expensive purchase at the time, outside of car and house.  In the background is our neighbor’s house and along the fence line he had grapevines against a wire fence with metal posts.  And the pine trees in the picture were our neighbor’s as well — there was very little planted on our part of the hill, though you can see the deep trench where I was putting in asparagus.

Moving forward 35 years to last spring and you can see that a substantial crop of weed trees and vines grew up over time in addition to our garden crops.

Garlic row with Weedy boundary fence

Strawberry bed with boundary weeds in the background

When our neighbor’s husband passed away, the vines and trees simply flourished and the grapes went wild.  I had put in a deer fence with double height T-bar posts and they ended up falling over into my neighbor’s grapes.  Some of the weed trees were 15-20 feet tall and were the only thing holding up the fence.  With the collapsing fence it no longer stopped the deer and I was getting really discouraged about the deer situation in general.  They started eating our 35 year old blueberry bushes for the first time in Nov and Dec and for several years they have frustrated my attempts to start a new orchard.  This week I discovered the biggest of the new trees has just about been girdled by deer.

Deer damage on Apple tree

We have finally come to the conclusion that the years of coexistence on the hill are at an end.  The only way to garden here is to exclude the deer.  And to exclude the deer we had to begin with the mess on the side of the garden.  Fortunately a few things conspired to help.  We found two willing and able workers who have greatly magnified my effectiveness, the weather has been great,  and we’ve finally come up with a concept that will at least give us a start at excluding the deer from a lot of the area where grow valuable plants. When done (hopefully within the next month) we will have about 3/4 of an acre fenced in protecting the blueberries, the lilies, the azaleas, the tulips, etc. while still leaving the orchard protection as a future task.  In just the last week and a half we now have a totally cleared boundary for the garden with split rail fencing installed, deer posts in, and weed fabric laid down.  It’s been a really satisfying way to start the season.

New split rail and deer fence

They even preserved my neighbor’s grape vines

Neighboring 35 year-old grape vines

In fact it went so well that we decided to eliminate some additional sources of vines and extend the split rail/deer fence concept up the side yard.

Continuing the split rail

Others might enjoy skiing but I’m finding this a really delightful way to spend the winter.

It’s partly been made possible by sunny weather that is also moving the plants along ahead of schedule.  The Winter Aconite are just about ready to pop.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) ready to open

The Anemone Coronaria, which has not flowered since it was planted in 2009, is looking beautiful in bud.

Anemone coronaria 'Governor' in bud

Heck, the bud is so pretty I will make do with that…

And the Lungwort is already showing color.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) in bud

Hey, life is good…

One comment on “Mid-Winter Transitions

  1. Randy


    Oh my you have really been busy! The new fence looks great and the deer fence should keep them out. My blueberries are outside our fence and now 4 years later, they are not much bigger than when we planted them. Not much sun for them. Enjoyed seeing the Winter Aconite ready to open. Yesterday our third species of crocus opened!