When these two mauraders became aware of me, they disappeared so swiftly and silently that I am not sure what exit route they used. They did not head off into the meadow, so it must have been through one of the breaks in the miscellaneous, non-continuous fences beside the guest house.
Rain required a flash but that allows you to find the deer through the reflections in their eyes.
Each night for the past week, deer have been in the garden. Their roof prints in newly reseeded patches in the lawn and growing numbers of piles of glistening scat in the meadow would be enough to give them and their repeat visits away. But I’ve seen them too. Late one afternoon, while raking leaves, I thought I was being watched. A doe and two fawns were deciding whether I posed a threat to them as they pass though the meadow. Jiff saw the same troika one morning.
The hoof prints and the scat might be a tolerable nuisance. But not what they’ve done to the shrubs is most dismaying. First they ate the leaves off the oakleaf hydrangeas. Then they eat the leaves of the button bushes and the blueberries. I covered these with black netting. They moved on to chomp away at the viburnum denatum and the dogwoods up to the height they can reach. They nibbled off the tops of all the day lilies in the bed in front of the guest house. They eat half of the autumn joy plants in that garden as well. But worst of all: they striped the winterberry bushes of leaves and berries.
Earlier this month, the lawn reseeders had remarked on the handsomeness of those winterberries.
Come winter, when snow might make foraging hard, the birds for whom the winterberries were intended, will have to keep flying if they are looking for sustenance.
I’d take a photo but it is too depressing. It’s not only the bittersweet that’s out of my control.
Yesterday I cleared the bayberry heath of bittersweet and dewberry. The latter is alive and well as it ha not been a target of my spraying. The bittersweet was not thriving but is also not completely dead. I found one egg case for a mantis and a mushroom. Here are before and after photos.
In an area along the southern border of the meadow where the Monarch caterpillars had been chewing the different milkweed, I cut bittersweet. Much of it is so dead that only bear stalks remain. And of course, root. It was easier just to tug on the dead stems and sometimes root came out as well. The root I could pull easily is not healthy. This praying mantis was in the area. I have come upon 5 egg cases for mantises.
Today I worked in the switchgrass section off the path to the beehives. The switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), planted in 2006, has overrun the little bluestem although the B. Trefoil, a legume and not a native, remains in the understory. Bittersweet has not been able to get established in this section but the dewberry has. The B. Trefoil, at the same level as the dewberry, seems at risk for being choked out. So I clipped dewberry.
I also cut to the ground as many bittersweet stems as I could in an area adjacent to the switchgrass where I had pulled bittersweet by the root in the early spring before the herbicide plan took shape. Dewberry came out with the bittersweet wherever they were intertwined.
My herbicide mentor strolled around the meadow with me the day before yesterday. I showed him where I had planted Little Bluestem seed after pulling out bittersweet root and expressed concern about the disturbed soil I had created. He suggested clipping the dead bittersweet stalks and removing as much thatch as possible to give the resurgent grasses, of which there are many types, more access to light and air.
I spent 2 hours yesterday and again today clipping in the forward part of the meadow (SW). each time I generated a bag’s worth of mostly leafless stalks. Sometimes just in tracing the stem back to the ground, I would pull out a few inches of decayed root. I scratched away as much of the thatch from previous years’ mowings as well.
The grasses that are filling in seem to be bunch grasses. I can identify the velvet grass but there are others as well. Note how hard it is to spot the bittersweet.
Down at the soil level, I got many grasshoppers to jump around and was bitten by a mosquito.
Its hairy racemes are red now. It must be fall. Its flowering stalks, anchored to its tufted base, blow in the breeze. Its the star of the meadow — food and cover for the Field and Song sparrows throughout the winter. Nothing, not even snow, will bend its upright form until the mower comes in early spring.
The video has other stars as well. In order of appearance: Little Bluestem, Switchgrass and Broomsedge.
This gallery contains 4 photos.
Common Dewberry hovers along the ground in the highest, driest section of the meadow. Maybe you could say it overruns that area. Its long branches have a nasty habit of taking root every few feet, creating a tripping hazard. Its prickles, though not as aggressive as blackberries, snag gloves and clothing. I have been thinking …