Thoughts on Home

Beauty and the Beasts

Thoughts on Home

Living in Portland, we don’t have to contend with as many creatures as suburban and country folks do. There are the voles, of course, that dig up our lawn, the Japanese beetles that ravage our sand cherry, the slugs that slime and munch on our annuals, and whatever recently beheaded our crocuses and burrowed behind the front porch (Groundhog? Rabbit?), hurling mounds of dirt from the garden in the process. Okay, so basically we don’t have deer — or a large enough quantity of any particular pests that we can lay the blame for our failed gardening efforts at their claws (or clammy little bodies). Instead, when plants don’t germinate or flower, or appear sickly, Mark and I hold ourselves responsible, citing lack of time, proper research, funds for enlisting professional help, and general horticultural cluelessness.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been particularly self-critical. First we noticed that the hydrangea bush we planted two years ago didn’t come back. Then we had to accept that the clematis that always explodes in white blossoms in time for my older son’s June birthday had perished. And toward the end of last week, we observed conspicuous empty spots where clumps of lady’s mantle and hosta used to be. Handwringing followed each of these discoveries, as well as threats by Mark to replace the gardens with grass (which, incidentally, we also stink at growing).

Then, on Friday evening, we discovered the culprit living not in the ground or beneath our porch, but right under our noses:

No sooner had I placed newly purchased pots of astilbe where the hydrangea had been, than this puppy-tsunami, Junie, was dragging them across the lawn, tearing the stems from the roots. Later, when I should have been watching her, she unearthed a cushion spurge Mark had planted minutes before.

Now we have deer netting (but no deer) around the beds and we’re working on training Junie. On the bright side, the fact that she (sometimes) responds to voice commands makes her more palatable than the typical garden pest. And, gah, those other critters don’t do this:

Anyone have experience with a plant-eating dog? I welcome any thoughts on how to nip this problem in the bud (sorry).

Cover Photo: Most of our yard is hopelessly shady, so I’m always on the lookout for plants that can survive in relative darkness. This year, I am loving these coral-colored tuberous begonias. 


4 Comments

  1. Beth Harrington-Howes

    Hostas are a favorite of mine for the shade. Also, new to Maine and just discovered O’donals. What a resource! They’ll have a hundred ideas for you! Good luck.

    • Sarah Stebbins

      Hi Beth — O’Donal’s is actually where all of the demolished and surviving plants came from! I love it there — the staff is so helpful. So glad you found it too. Welcome to Maine and thank you so much for reading.

  2. Nancy Gorden

    Oh, your saga is so familiar. “Grand dog” loves digging up the garden. Oh well, this too shall pass! As for shade, I love our bleeding heart, ginger, astilbe, prime rose and those ever present hostas. I especially like the hostas that are mostly white which give the garden a brightness. You can also plant impatients that give lots of lovely color and just love the shade. FYI…they do need good watering. Good luck. Hope the pup outgrows her desire to do her own form of gardening! Maybe a “dog garden” would distract her!

    • Sarah Stebbins

      Ooh, I have never tried ginger and primrose — great ideas. And we have lots of green hosta but no white. Those sound beautiful. Want to come to my house and do some planting, Nancy? Aside from a big push at the beginning of the spring, my gardens are mostly terribly neglected! xo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *