Strawberry Tree vs Urban Deer

 

arbutus unedo flower in autumn, strawberry tree, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins
  • They’re evergreen – that’s a big plus in my book.
  • They have pretty little flower clumps – a 2nd season for interest.  That’s another plus.
arbutus unedo berry in autumnstrawberry tree, garden Victoria BC
photo by SVSeekins
  •  They even have edible fruit!  Well, it’s not tasty, but it is edible.  And dangling strawberry-like fruit hanging from a shrub is funky – a 3rd season of interest.

That’s 3 plus signs!  They seemed a perfect choice for my shrub border.

  • They’d give the yard some privacy from the street.
  • They wouldn’t be too tall to interfere with utility lines overhead.

I had to have one! Okay, 3 – because they’re so cool.

  • It turns out the deer think strawberry trees are cool, too.  And delicious.
arbutus unedo protected from deer
photo by SVSeekins

For the bushes to survive & grow to any height, I resorted to protecting them with stucco wire.  It’s worked well.  Instead of being deer pruned, knee height, struggling little bushes, they’ve grown over my head in just a couple of years.

I think they’re kind of pretty. And the dangling strawberries are definitely funky. But the ‘protective custody’ sort of ruins the ‘nature at it’s finest’ vibe.

arbutus unedo - no protective cage
photo by SVSeekins

I removed the wire protection from the 3rd tree this summer. An experiment.

Strawberry Tree vs. Urban Deer.

Blooms only on the top section.

Fullness trimmed out of the lower section.

My guess is that the deer can only reach so high while they’re helping out with the pruning.

Now the experiment continues with crossed fingers.  Hopefully the deer will leave some of the lower branches though the winter.  Otherwise this strawberry tree might end up being shaped a little less like a shrub, and a little more like a tree.

There’s a word for that, isn’t there?  A standard?

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Peony – kicks the bucket in November

Peony in autumn
photo by SVSeekins

They make spring exciting: jumping out of the ground like cheerleaders & producing huge pom-pom flowers.  They even stand up to deer all summer.  Then it starts in September as soon as the fog & cooler temperatures arrive in Victoria  It’s not as exciting as their extravagant blooms, but Peonies add great fall interest with their changing leaf color.

Peony fall tidy up
photo by SVSeekins

By mid November they’re looking pretty shabby & the foliage starts to go a little slimy.  I’ve read that it’s better to cut these perennials back and not let the leafs rot on the ground.  Apparently the old material can hold & spread disease or bad bugs.  Either way, it’s the slimy foliage that convinces me to clean up.

crocosmia roots & all
photo by SVSeekins

There’s also something satisfying about rescuing the tomato cages that worked so hard to support the monster blooms last summer.  They stack up & fit nicely in the dry garden shed for the rainy season.

It’s been a full year since the crocosmia were welcome in this bed.  I carefully migrated the colony elsewhere to give the day lilies a fighting chance.  With the Peonies cut back, and the soil nicely soft, it’s an excellent opportunity to pull out any rogue crocosmia.  How many years will it take before the crocosmia is truly gone?

I’m leaving the day lilies alone until they die back completely this year.  Hopefully that’ll send as much energy as possible down into the roots so they’re healthier & ready to grow & form a bigger clump next year.  With all the spring crocus & daffodils in this bed, the lily leafs come out in time to hide the bulbs once their show wraps up.

I’m getting closer to being satisfied with this as a 4 season bed.

spring – action extravaganza – bulbs, peonies & Rhodos bloom
summer – solid border + day lily bloom
fall – fall foliage color
winter – hmm…  A little barren.    Any ideas?

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hardy Fuchsia – still a delight in November

Recently a hummingbird visited the garden.  Yup.  November in Victoria & still the hummingbirds hang out.  Here is one of the reasons why:

Hardy Fushia bloom in autumn
photo by SVSeekins

Hardy Fuchsia is one of my fall favorites.  I like that the deer seem to leave it alone.  And I really like to see something blooming so late in the season.

There are 4 decent sized Hardy Fuchsia in our garden to keep the hummers fed through the fall.  Most years the shrub blooms straight through Christmas.  Then our winter cold kicks in and it dies back fairly quickly.

Full sized Hardy Fushia in autumn
photo by SVSeekins

Luckily for the hummingbirds, that’s when other bloomers like snowdrops, cyclamen and hellebore show up to pick up the slack.

Occasionally, when I really feel the urge for a tidy garden, I trim the tired shrub back right to the ground.  It’s always come back in the spring, and seems to easily reach mature height & be blooming again by July.

Hardy Fushia in spring
photo by SVSeekins

Some years I don’t bother to trim it back, but you decide.  Here’s a comparison shot from one spring  when it wasn’t trimmed back. Which do you prefer?

I’m still undecided.

hardy fuchsia in May
photo by SVSeekins

If it’s trimmed back, it’s tidy & my attention goes to the spring blooming Pacific Bleeding Heart that’s spread so nicely around its base.

If it isn’t trimmed back, it looks a little shabby, but nicely fills that air between the 2 clumps of cedars.    Please weigh in on this one & let me know if I should bother trimming this winter?

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© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.