Sunday, July 29
Gardening With Birds and Dogs
After a second year in which I did not get nearly as many blueberries as I knew were produced in my garden, I decided that certain measures needed to be taken. As my blackberries began to mature, I put up some fruit netting to foil birds, chipmunks, neighbor kids, and all other manner of fruit-stealing varmints. The netting is easy for me to get up and under, but it's going to be heck to remove from the shrub later--I was in too much of a hurry to build a proper frame for it, which would have made removal much easier.
Right now, though, that's the furthest thing from my mind. This morning, I harvested my first ripe blackberry! Well, okay, so it was almost ripe--not quite as sweet as it would have been had I waited until it was ready for me, but I was certainly ready for it. (For the record, the first two actual ripe blackberries went to the little girls next door this evening. Fruit netting does not help protect the harvest from a softy gardener.)
A less combative coexisting-with-animals story can be found in my front garden. When we're in the front yard I hook Coco up to one of the infamous lions with her 6ft. leash. She checks out the new smells and then usually lays down in a spot that allows her to survey the street while I putter. If someone has the audacity to walk down our side of the street, or if Another Dog appears within sight of the house at all, Coco must immediately jump up and investigate. Her front paws generally land within a 3ft by 18in semicircle as she barks a few times, then strains to get her nose close enough to the interloper to get a good sniff. As you can imagine, this semicircle is a tough place for any plant to live.
Coco has been trained pretty well in terms of staying out of the rest of the garden--except when she steals tomatoes and beans to eat--but frankly I don't mind her letting people know she's here with one or two barks. I don't want to hook her up to anything else, either. If I put her up on the porch, she'd be out of range of the occasional ear scratch or tummy rub as I walk past... where's the fun in that?!
So I took a flat rock from the backyard and placed it in the part of the semicircle where she tends to land most often. Then I dug out several chunks from the golden oregano that I've been using as groundcover in other parts of this bed, and used it to fill in the rest of the area. Golden oregano seems to spread in a rather mannerly way for me in this western exposure, and its bright acid yellow spring color gives way to a nice fresh chartreuse in the summer.
The golden oregano is working out wonderfully there, as it has now spread to fill in its little area and easily handles the occasionally trampling by my 90lb. dog. As a bonus, when she does crush a few leaves underfoot the lemony smell of golden oregano perfumes the air.
And if a parade of dogs should happen to march down our street, and cause her to completely ruin the clump? Well, I have more to dig up and replace it--but if I didn't, then it would cost me all of $2 at my local garden center to buy another pot of golden oregano next spring. And I get to have my gardening assistant at my side while I mess about in the front yard. In my mind, you can't beat that deal any way you look at it.
As I write this post, I can't help but think that I should be taking a look at using more herbs--maybe in more unconventional ways--in my garden. They're already go-to plants for me in many situations, but I'm sure that there are other design and decorative uses that I have yet to dream up. If you're reading this and you have used herbs in particularly imaginative ways, please share! I would love a few more ideas... especially if they could relieve me of having to deal with fruit netting. (I know. Pipe dream there. But it's a lovely thought, isn't it?!)