Bachelor Party for Urban Deer

lack tail deer bucks garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

This morning I spotted a visiting black-tailed buck feasting on the apple tree.

Because he was on the ditch side of the fence, I bravely (?) attempted a closer look.

Slowly zig-zagging across the yard I pointed the camera at the deer, but was careful to never make eye contact.  (That’s how to approach a nervous horse, so I figured: Why not?)
Surprisingly the buck just kept chomping!
I reached the branches of the apple tree!
Thank goodness for the fence.

lack tail deer bucks garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

He’s so much larger & more daunting than the fawn & doe that frequent our yard.  As I admired his rack, another deer came into view.
Yikes!
Not a doe – – another buck!
Neither seemed particularly concerned that I was nearby.  I suppose deer with antlers aren’t chased by angry gardeners as often as those without, so why would these fellas be worried?
Thank goodness for the fence.

lack tail deer bucks garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Who knew male deer hang out together through the summer?  I’ve seen plenty of family groups of does & children.  Once, when we lived on Cedar Hill Road, a buck was included in the family lifestyle… but mostly, I expect bucks to be solitary creatures.  So what’s this?  The gathering before the mating season begins?
Bachelor party baby!!
Thank goodness for the fence.

I figure these deer are 3-4 years old because there are so many points on their antlers.  Isn’t that how to tell the age of a buck?
Nope.  ‘Turns out a deer that’s happy & very well fed can produce more points than usual.  Perhaps apples are especially nutritious.
Thank goodness for the fence.

lack tail deer bucks garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Admiring the 2nd buck, I lost track of the 1st.  Where’d he go?
He’d walked along the fence & entered the gate … to taste our other apple tree.
Right behind me.
Agggh!
Now I was trapped by the damn fence.

Antlers look so much BIGGER from this angle!  Especially with his head down, those points look even more dangerous!!

lack tail deer bucks garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Thank goodness this fellow was NOT aggressive… just calmly nibbling on grass & approaching the gravenstein.

I can definitely see how someone might jump to conclusions, live in fear & not want urban bucks in the neighborhood.  I gotta admit I pretty near wet myself when those points were lowered right in front of me.

lack tail deer bucks garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

When the pair finished feeding, and meandered to another yard, I started to breathe again.

In Greater Victoria, our urban deer population increases each year.  Like many folks, I’m usually excited to see them & content to share space.  Why some folks aren’t as welcoming is a little more clear to me today.
What’s the next step the city should take?
Cull?
Catch, castrate & release for study?
Got any other ideas?

 -30-

Gathering Seed

For me, the most difficult part of collecting seed is holding off long enough for the seed to ripen on the plant.

grand camas seed head garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
great camas in flower, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • Sometimes I just want to tidy up the garden, so I’ll take the  flower  stalk while the camas heads are still green.  I tuck them into a paper bag & leave them in a warm dry place to ripen.  Apparently the early collection leads to lower germination rates, but better that than nothing at all…
    Lupin seed head garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Lupin in bloom garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Other times I’ll harvest Lupin seed a bit early just to make sure I get some.  If I wait just a touch too long, it’s suddenly ready, pops open & is gone-gone-gone.
    Again, better a bit early than nothing at all.
    With the lupin, I make sure there is lots of room in the paper bag for air circulation.  It’s no good if crowded pods go moldy.

    snapdragon seed capsules pods garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    snapdragon in bloom garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • The snapdragon holds its seeds in little rattles.  When they’re mature little holes open near the top of the capsule & the seeds can escape when shaken.    Because there’s less ‘spillage’ I’m more comfortable waiting for the seeds to ripen on the plant.  I cut, upend the stalk the paper bag,  then give it a good shake to collect the seed.
    calendula seed head garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Calendula blooms & green seed heads garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • With some other flowers, like calendula, the individual seeds set on the flower.  I wait until the seed head is brown to collect .  Even still, I use a paper grocery bag to collect the seed heads.  After a good shake most seeds dislodge & all that’s left is separating the seed from the chaff.
    shasta daisy seed heads garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Shasta Daisy - happy blooms garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Shasta Daisy is similar, but has a copious amount of seed in comparison.  Once ripened, seed drops with the slightest shift, self-sowing all around.  KC once told me to NEVER-EVER-EVER let shasta self seed or else I’d NEVER-EVER-EVER be done with weeding them out of the garden.  I take her advice to heart & deadhead early.
    Rather than collecting seed at all, I figure I can divide the healthy clumps I already have whenever there’s a need some in another location.

    clematis montana seed head garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    clematis montana in bloom garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Some plant’s flowers turn to fluff when they go to seed.  In the case of clematis montana, it’s so decorative that I can’t bear to cut off the seed heads.
    goldenrod gone to seed head garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
    golden rod in bloom, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    Golden Rod  seed head isn’t quite as pretty, but because it is native to this area, it’s a fabulous food for the local birds.  So I’m a little torn about collecting the seed.  The plant divides fairly well, so that’s what I do when I want more clumps around the yard.

    Oregon Grape berries in august, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    oregon grape (mahonia) in bloom Victoria garden BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • Some plants  produce  berries hoping birds & animals will eat them and spread the seed around in their droppings.  Oregon grape is a good example.  I’ve found that trying to transplant this shrub  hasn’t worked well… but there are a few oregon grape babies in the garden, so collecting the seed is worth a try.
    Gather some berries, mash them & rinse the pulp from the seeds with cold water in a fine sieve.  After that, it’s super important to thoroughly dry the seeds.  Spreading them out on paper towel helps to  stop them from clumping together & molding.

    gary oak acorns, Victoria BC garden Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins

    gary oak in leaf garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
    photo by SVSeekins
  • And then there’s the nuts.  Those are best collected when they fall off the trees.  So many garry oak acorns drop in the early autumn before the leafs fall, that it’s easy-peasy to collect them.
    I prefer to plant them into litre pots right away as the seedling will start quickly.  They really don’t like the fragile tap root being  disturbed in transplanting so I skip the smaller pot sizes altogether.
    After that, the trick is leaving the pot outside to get the natural temperature & rain… but still protecting it from those hard-working squirrels.

Yup.  I guess I’m not the only one bent on gathering seeds.

Does your harvesting spirit spark at this time of year too?  What are your collection tips & techniques?

-30-

Amaranth

amaranth seed head garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Decorative and delicious…
a conversation starter in any garden.

Our buddy GB planted the Inca’s ancient grain  amaranth in his newly created front yard veggie patch this spring.  Since then he’s met more of his neighbors than ever before.  Who wouldn’t be compelled to ask about this striking stand of burgundy plumes?  It was top of my list when our families got together at Cowichan Lake last week.

GB's stand of Amaranth, garden Victoria BC Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Like folks across South America, India, Fiji & China, GB’s  family enjoys the young amaranth leaves in their salads.

They also plan to  harvest the crop for the  complete protein, gluten-free grain.  Apparently it’s good to use raw in smoothies or cooked  in water as  a rice-style side dish.

GB gave me a stalk.  It made a lovely bouquet for a day or so, then drooped.  Another amaranth variety, Love Lies Bleeding, is even better for bouquets as its tassels dangle so drooping is not an issue at all.

Where would you grow amaranth – – the flower garden or the vegetable patch?

-30-