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Oh Deer, Deer

By —— Bio and Archives--October 22, 2007

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“Many gardeners have had a bellyful of brazen deer,” notes Sears’ Tips for Deterring Deer at this useful web site, part of a much larger ‘Advice for Gardeners’ from that estimable retailer.

Some might sneer that this is another sales pitch from south o’ the border. But the again others, especially those living in or around one of North America’s largest urban conurbations might not. In downtown Millerville, a mere biscuit toss across the Don Valley from Rosedale, a lady lawyer found her euonymus decimated by deer. Not far away, in the chic Beach area they have been photographed in gardens – and apprehended swimming in Lake Ontario. Out west of Millerville in thriving Mississauga, a whole herd climbs in and out of the Credit River Valley.

Many and varied are the ways suggested in this site and elsewhere to deter deer. Many are distinctly dubious. Lion manure, advice some, presumably with ample supplies of the feline faeces. Suspending scented soap bars in pantyhose from tree branches and fences is another felicitous idea. Then there are those electronic devices purporting to emit ultrasonic sounds to the distress of deer (something similar was a device sold to repel foxes in London, U.K. that came with a warning that it would be ineffective used against deaf foxes).

Sears also suggests that a fence – or fences – surrounding the entire property might be the answer. But for those facing building bylaws, noxious neighbours and less-than-deep-pockets, planting distasteful or repellent plants might have more attraction. Check out this site for such – and more.

Dry Stone Walls Rise Again

According to transplanted Englishman John Shaw-Rimmington, that which turned his thoughts towards dry stonewalls was the demolition of a snake fences by one of his Scottish highland cattle. The beast simple stuck its horns under the fence and tossed it contemptuously into the air.
Wood fences are a North American tradition. Unlike the old country, the settlers found plenty of wood and they had the tools to deal with it.

Zigzagging across the countryside snake fences, requiring no posts but simply rails laid on top of one another were a favourite. According to one reliable report, by the end of the 19th-century there were six million miles of wood fencing of every style on the face of the United States alone.

John Shaw-Rimmington, a Port Hope, Ontario stonemason with a quarter-century of practical experience under his belt, decided to learn all about the dry stone wall techniques.

He practiced with Ontario glacial till until he had honed his craft, and visited rockers over ‘ome.  But to succeed in constructing dry stone walls, he says one has to “be able to think like a stone.”

How well has he succeeded? Delighted visitors to recent Canada Blooms have been considerably more impressed with demonstrations he and colleagues at the Dry Stone Wall Association of Canada organized than many of the other allegedly horticultural exhibits. There are additional seminars and courses right across the continent. Enthusiasts can now compete for the annual Canadian Dryscaping Award, with categories for both professionals and amateurs.

The Dry Stone Wall Association of Canada, founded in 2000, encourages all this and more. View some of their achievements and learn more about this outstanding organization by visiting either web sites.


Interlocking Pavers

The use of the ubiquitous interlocking paving stone is an ancient idea used in modern installations. Subject to insulting remarks to this day, it appears nothing can replace its utility and applications.

This website from Interlocking Concrete Paving Institute abounds with both useful and interesting information on this still-growing industry. Whether in the market for such or just as general interest gardeners will find fascination here – doubtless any professional installer will already by familiar with it.

While the Romans certainly used a similar system, the breakthrough came from the Netherlands during the 1950s as the country sought to emerge from the havoc of World War II. The system spread to Germany in the following decade then, in the 1970s, to countries as far apart as Britain, South Africa and Australia. In a country too prone to tolerating native-borne knockers, you might be surprised to learn that it was underfoot in Canada before adopted south of the border.

Today interlocking pavers have even extended from the horizontal to the vertical in easy-to-install retaining walls and other projects. While this website is principally aimed at the professional, there is plenty to engage the informed amateur.


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Wes Porter -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Wes Porter is a horticultural consultant and writer based in Toronto. Wes has over 40 years of experience in both temperate and tropical horticulture from three continents.

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