Sorry, birds, no treat of winterberries this winter

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.

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