The lilies were mere days from opening. Six stalks heavy with close to three dozen blossoms, each blossom swaddled within its own petals. In full bloom they would soon measure five to six inches in circumference, bright white petals outlined in deep pink. I went out to check on them yesterday and …
They were gone.
Every. Last. One. Vanished.
Each flower had been snipped off at the base of the bud. And to add to the mayhem, mystery: the severed blossoms were nowhere in sight. It was as if someone had come in the middle of the night, clipped them with a hedge trimmer and made off in the dark with my long-awaited botanical bounty.
Who or what could have done this? It would have been one thing if the blossoms had been scattered four feet below on the ground around the base of the plants. The rabbits love to do that. It’s a special bunny game called Torture-the-Gardener. It goes like this: watch for the tulips to bloom that the Gardener planted last fall. Await her cries of delight and excitement as the tulip flowers are 17 hours from fully opening. Creep out in the light of a spring moon, nibble them off at the bases and leave the petals scattered like so much dead confetti for Gardener to find when she comes out the following morning. Enjoy watching her scream and steam. Cover Baby Bunny’s ears from the foul language.
I’ve quit skirmishing with the chipmunks of late. They’re impervious to the taste of Tabasco, use putrid egg potion as perfume, are dextrous enough to pilfer a single nut from my Hav-a-Heart traps. But they couldn’t have climbed the lilies’ sturdy stalks, could they? Bitten off the flowers one blossom at a time and carried them down into their little chippie tunnels? Had they invented specialized lily-ladders? Or had deer come for a midnight snack? I saw no tell-tale prints, nor droppings, but I have seen a few of these white-tailed destroyers every now and then in the neighborhood. As far as I know, I have no human enemies, no neighborhood gardeners who envy my echinacea. Irrelevant, who did the dastardly deed. I am nevertheless lily-less.
A few years ago, staring at those stems, shorn of all that potential and imminent beauty, I would have been truly livid. Today, I just shrug. It’s not worth the wrath. So the deer ate the lilies. Or the chipmunks managed to pilfer them in some way, lock, stock and stamen. Maybe it’s all the yoga. Or maybe thirty years of tilling these dear patches of earth, riding the peaks and valleys of growth and destruction has taught me non-attachment. Maybe this is what a Zen garden truly is — not one of tenderly raked gravel and exquisitely pruned shrubs. But a garden where destruction is met with equanimity and joy can still be savored in what was potential and imminent.
How is your garden growing? Share this column with your gardening buddies by clicking Facebook’s “f”. And if you have some tricks to keep the varmints at bay, do tell.
This made me laugh because mine all disappeared and left me looking at stumps! I take the dog out that way several times a day and I couldn’t believe that I could have missed them….and same thing, no petal trail!
Glad I could offer a spot of laughter amidst all the garden carnage!
One word: Slugs. In our back yard, which is mostly shade, I battle slugs in the rainy, humid weather every year. They punch awful holes in my basal and hosta plants… just for starters.
At our FLW house in St. Joe, anything that’s green is salad to the deer … they come up from the woods near the river and dine on the garden. One year, I tried coyote pee — but could barely stand the smell when we approached the house!
Oh the concoctions! We tried coyote pee one year. Drove our dog bonkers.
Coyote pee, beer, rotten eggs, bubble bubble toil and trouble!
Welcome to our world here in the south. It is impossible to fight the deer any longer. They have their favorites, but they seem to eat just about anything any more. I have stubs of agapanthas, oakleaf hydrangeas, regular hydranges, camellias, and recently, I have seen them eating azelas, and youpan holly! I gave up on lilies and most annuals years ago. Our first few years, we were out spraying any concoction that people recommended to keep them away. I have learned, it does not help, so I have becom a much more casual gardner, when it comes to flowers. As non-gardeners say, the deer were here first! I guess it took some time to learn that. Hard to believe that there are deer in our old neighborhood!! Kay
Oh Kay. How awful. Just the mental image of agapanthas stubs. As for the non-gardeners. There used to be natural predators to keep deer in check, I would imagine. Recent article in NYTimes described the community in Hastings trying a new approach: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/nyregion/providing-birth-control-to-deer-in-an-overrun-village.html?_r=0.
I guess when Mr. Stag gets amorous, his Mrs. will say, “Not tonight, deer.”