But something even more exciting than a greenhouse is coming to the garden, or rather around the garden. What could be more exciting than a greenhouse? That first sentence might have tipped you off. My parents are finally getting a fence! Around a much larger portion of the property than I ever would have thought, I might add. Close to half of the five-acre property is going to be surrounded by a six-foot, black (I think) chain-link fence. No, it's not enough to completely ensure a deer-free garden, but it will hopefully discourage enough. If not, the plan is to add something later to make the fence taller or more difficult to jump over.
Finally, I'll be able to expand my plant palette beyond barberries, heaths and heathers, ornamental grasses, herbs, rhododendrons, and the few other plants I've found that are reliably deer-resistant. I have a lot of day-dreaming and drooling over online catalogs and gardening books to do. I'll be able to grow succulents, which the deer would always destroy by the end of a thirsty summer. Deciduous azaleas and hardy fuchsias will no longer be beyond my grasp. So many cool broad-leaf evergreens, both herbaceous and woody. So many great natives, like the full spectrum of hardy Ceanothus and Arctostaphylos, instead of just the ones with the smallest leaves (for the former) or most fuzzy (of the latter). I'm having a hard time even remembering all the fantastic plants I've given up on, or passed over before even buying, because I knew the deer would never leave them alone. Of course I won't be abandoning my deer-proof plants, either. I still love rhododendrons, but now I'll be able to grow some of the types with smaller, thinner leaves that the deer would sometimes strip. After my first few attempts at growing cistus, I'll definitely keep adding more. Epimediums are still a must. I still love heaths and heathers, although I think I'll scale back on those a bit and be pickier about what what stays or goes. Drought-tolerance was always the second-most important qualification. Without deer, it becomes the primary requirement, although rules are made to be broken.
The first step was to take down the rotting split-rail fence along the road. Held up by a few metal fence posts and the railings, the wooden posts aren't good for much except piling up somewhere for animal habitat. Most of the rails are still in good enough shape to use for something. One idea is to use some of them to build a support for the weeping blue Atlas cedar planted last summer. I think the naturally-aged wood will pair nicely with the blue of the cedar.
The pictures above and below show a small part of the split-rail fence. As you can see in the photo below, it runs along the road for a few hundred feet. For the most part, it came apart fairly easily with a sledge hammer. Demolition is always so satisfying.
The fence is completely down now, and the ground has been cleared to install the new fence. I can't wait for the new fence to go up. I'm going to celebrate by taking all the ugly cages off of the trees I planted last year, the Penstemon rupicola and P. davidsonii, and anything else that's had to cower behind a cage all these years. Then I'm going to go out and start buying all the cool plants I thought I'd never be able to grow (within the limits of my rather small budget, at least).