During our last stay in France we were blessed with fine weather, back at home it rained. The neighbour who was going to water my pots was excused this chore and I had expected to see developments of a colourful nature. At the very least some flowers on the Godetia plants from Rollo, the first flush of Morning Glory flowers and some of my July-flowering perennials.
Glass of wine in hand I took a turn round the terraces and lawn. It was all too evident that the Roe Deer that live in the woods backing our garden had been dining at our expense. Nibbling has been widespread, just the leading shoots of plants are taken, like the Toad Lily, and flower buds just before they open – day lilies, campanula, michaelmas daisy. The rose which is tucked in the narrow border running along the wrought iron railings by the pond, our only rose in the English garden, has not escaped attention. But I’m pleased to see that the Gladioli have been left alone. The garden is verdant enough but distinctly lacking in colour.
I’m put out and come indoors resolving that it will be the steps inside and out, and the deer which drive us away from 88. It is not as if we have not attempted to restrict access to the garden. We put up a deer fence a couple of years ago but it does not run down our boundaries with neighbours and despite the yew hedges planted by Andy nine years ago, the deer slip through between bushes. We have also tried an electric fence but it is not a deterrent.
The woodland area of our garden has been neglected for a couple of seasons and the bark paths are thick with weeds, the fernery at the very top is smothered with greater stitchwort, violet, hedge woundwort, bramble, sorrel…. I take the collapsible round green weedbag to the top of the garden and some hand-tools. As I reach the top of the stone steps, under the great oak, there is a rustling and a small red-brown animal zips through the laurel hedge into the next garden. Not Muntjac as well I think! Gloom…. I peer down onto the lawn in time to see a female Roe Deer leap our hedge and disappear in the same direction.
I set to work on my knees, it is satisfying but hard labour. After about an hour I hear rustling and cracking of twigs near the compost bins. Peering into the corner I see a young Roe Deer which is now panicking as I draw near. It struggles to get through the wire mesh of the deer fence and I fear its head will become stuck. I’d like a photo and capture something. I think the best thing will be to go out of the gate into the wood and approach the fence so the deer will bolt. It sees its moment and vanishes down the steps. What I took to be a Muntjac earlier was clearly the twin of the fawnI have just seen.
During successive days I see at least two female deer with twins. They are there very early in the morning but may come back to the garden early afternoon. On one occasion, a good few years ago, we found a pair of very small fawns curled up in the long grass at the top level. We now know that the mother had left her offspring briefly in order to browse. But at the time we thought they were abandoned. Fortunately we left well alone.
I put in two days of garden clearance in our woodland garden. At the end there is a lot to show for it and I am dog tired. As I take bag after bag of weeds and cut foliage up to the waste heap we are growing in the woods, I notice that there are hazel nuts on the ground. These are the nuts which are empty and would not ripen. We gathered some one year kept them until they were nicely brown and cracked them open….. Zilch!
It’s only mid-July and there are nuts on the ground. Some of the flowers I had looked forward to enjoying will not be entertaining me this year. The Gladioli I saw upon my return have now been munched. Will we still be in this house when they come round again? The jury is out.