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.