A Dream Emerges
In October 2015 I moved to my home, attracted by the woods and creek behind the house. In June 2016, my disabled daughter moved in with me. In the spring of 2017, I planted my first milkweed with the intention of supporting a comeback for Monarch butterflies. I dreamed of a native plant garden.
In the summer of 2018, I discovered my first Monarch caterpillar, bought a cage, brought a couple cats in the house, and released them once they had emerged.
By the summer of 2019 my milkweed had expanded. I needed a bigger cage and experienced the pleasure and amazement of witnessing several cats spin their chrysalis, eventually emerge, dry their wings, and beg to be released. I sent for tags from Monarch Watch and after watching several videos on YouTube, learned how to tag them.
In the spring of 2019 I added a second bed with the hope of growing veggies. The location wasn’t good for that, so I joined the two beds … it’s shape reminiscent of a Native American burial mound. My dream for a native plant, pollinator garden reignited.
My Dream Becomes a Reality During COVID 19
In 2020 COVID hit. With the overwhelm of self-quarantining and social distancing, I never made it to a nursery. I hardly knew where to begin anyway. I thought my dream had died.
And then, while exploring the list of Farmer’s Markets on my digital Dayton Daily News site, I discovered Kara Maynard and Deeply Rooted Landscapes. After a phone call and friendly chat, I hired this delightful and knowledgeable woman to install my garden.
I won’t be able to go out to lunch or dinner with friends … my favorite way to celebrate my birthday. So this seemed the perfect gift to give to myself.
Kara set about planning and designing my garden. Its needing to be deer resistant gave her a different dimension of thought.
She and an impressive college student, Emma, arrived on June 18 (a little less than one month before my July 15 birthday) to install the garden.
Once that was done, we wrapped the garden in rabbit-proof fencing, but that wouldn’t deter deer. Deer are regular visitors to the backyards of my neighbors and me. Last winter I spotted five bucks rambling through my yard and across my garden patch.
So Far, So Good!
I hoped the deer-resistant plants Kara and I selected would taste to them like liver tastes to me and they wouldn’t be tempted. But just in case, after an internet search, I went to work to add an extra layer of protection.
I developed a concoction of cayenne powder, tabasco, water, and castile soap to spray on the plants. Then I wrapped Irish Spring bar soap in rags and tied it to the posts. I soaked old wash cloths and dish rags in white vinegar and hung them on the fence. I warned my neighbors lest they think this was my new method of drying laundry. 🙂 So far, it seems to be working.
Deep, Creep, & Leap
The first year’s goal is for the roots to grow deep. Next year the plants will spread out. The third year they will grow tall. It’s called deep, creep, and leap. Native plants don’t require a lot of maintenance, so Kara told me not to baby them. Watering twice a week for an hour would suffice.
Then the drought hit … record breaking temperatures in the 90s for days. So I’ve been watering ½ hour a day instead. I’m anticipating an astronomical water bill. But after this year, when they are better established, I’m hoping they will flourish without that extra boost.
What a thrill to witness my first blooms!! My word for 2020 is “AWE.” I’m in awe again … for the first time since COVID hit!