Monday, November 12, 2012

Nuisance Neighbors or Garden Helpers … a Tail (!) from Camp Evergreen

Mr. Fox, enjoying a bit of shade on the deck

Those of us living at altitude know all too well, the challenges of gardening with critters around our prized plants, veggies and trees.  We’ve all made the efforts to keep them out or perhaps even have read the Fact Sheets on control methods.   In fact, most hearty  Master Gardeners (MG) have fielded calls on the CMG Hotline about controlling the critters that frequently make a meal out of our prized nursery stock, ripening tomatoes or seedling transplants and saplings. What’s a gardener to do??   Just who was here first???

Other than surrounding your beds with 6’ high fences, electronic eyes, searchlights, coils of razor wire, bottles of repellant and other manners to control underground attacks – I say strive for a non-contentious balance. While these invaders may be looked upon as nuisance neighbors, these critters also can be considered garden helpers.  Case in point, I had two such garden helpers this past summer that amused me to no end.

Take Mr. Fox, seen above resting in the shade on the back deck after a hectic morning of wrangling squirrels!  Dare I say there were no battles of who’s going to eat the birdseed at the feeders first …birds or squirrels?  Or who’s going to dig in the deck planters to bury some unforeseen treasure from the forest floor.  In fact, I followed wet paw prints across a spot of sheltered deck after a light rain one evening, only to discover they did not belong to the resident Camp Lab, but belonged to Mr. Fox.   He at least had had the consideration of digging in a planter box that had not yet been planted!  For that, he earned Special Access and the box remained unplanted for the rest of the season … and no, I didn’t dig around to find out what all his buried treasures were!

Then there was Carly, the young elk cow, who appeared one late afternoon to help trim the back lawn.
Young elk, Carly, the lawn maintenance crew

For all that say … “Who has a lawn in the Foothills …?”   I will readily admit I do – It’s small, only 8 x 30 off my back deck.  It’s just an added spot of greenery no one enjoys, other than those here at the Camp.
Yes, it’s filled with dandelions, small knapweed and other such invaders but Carly does enough to help keep things under control!  Perhaps an affiliate membership in the Colorado Weed Management Association is in order??  I will say she was even considerate enough not to leave her pine-tainted fertilizer behind, even though it was fall and the prime time to fertilize lawns for root growth!

There are a few more ‘helpers’ around here at The Camp, but they have yet to prove their worth.  (Even though Rosie the Rabbit is careful & delicate in her pruning, she just needs to find a different  horticultural focus, besides my budding Columbine!)   While it is fun to call out our nuisance neighbors,
it is important to remember how much we all enjoy living in such colorful surroundings – even if it means a 6’ high fence to protect the veggie plot is in your future for next Spring!

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