Judy's Picky Picks
When the deer chomp your daffodils there’s only one thing to do: go enjoy someone else’s. Margy Comings’ yard rivals the maze for its profusion of daffodils, so when she invited the brown bag lunch group to her house to enjoy her spring flowers, I went with them.
The long unpaved drive to her house is adorned with spreading clumps of daffodils in bloom, and her house is surrounded by the flowers, beds of yellows and whites and pinks.
Daffodils belong to the flower genus, Narcissus, spring flowering bulbs that are part of the Amyrillus family. Named for Narcissus, a Greek hunter renowned for his beauty and pride who died staring at his own image, daffodils are at the same time showy and delicate. Wikapedia cites a source that calculates there are 50 to 100 wild and cultivated daffodils. Margy can count 120 varieties just in her yard, and she says, there are thousands. Some have weak stems or are slow in multiplying, so they are not sold commercially. Among the varieties she grows are Tahiti, a double yellow with orange-red segments, pinks like Mon Cherie, Faith, My Story, and Precocious, and the whites Sorbet, Goblet and Obdam, and Curly and Flyer.
To repel the deer, she lays Milorganite in the beds and sprays the flowers with Deer Off, a concoction she used to purchase at the reportedly defunct Goose and Garden. I did notice several of the beds were inside tall wire fences, but those, Margy told me, were there to keep the deer from her daylilies. When she first started her garden, Comings says the deer did not dine on daffodils, but always found daylilies to their taste.
Unless the gardens are so abundant deer loss can’t be detected, the two products appear to have worked. According to the Milorganite website, this is actually an organic fertilizer made from recycled microbes left after treated water is returned to Lake Michigan by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District, giving new meaning to the old Blatz Beer sobriquet, “Milwaukee’s Finest.” Comings says it repels the deer as it does have an odor when first spread around the beds.
The websites Deer Off.com and havahart.com claim that that repellant is organic and safe. The ingredient listed as active on the Deer Off website is putescent egg, the name alone enough to repel any living creature with a nose.
I researched the term putescent egg and found an explanation on livestrong.com, which they attribute to Havahart: “Putrescent egg solids are produced from eggs that have imperfections or cracked shells and have been deemed unfit for humans. The strong, unpleasant smell of rotten eggs ‘mimics the smell of rotting animals, tricking the deer, rabbit or squirrel into thinking there is a nearby predator.’" Also in the product, according to “livestrong,” are garlic and capsaicin, ground pepper in solution. Just after spraying, I don’t think I would want to be in my yard any more than my deer friends would.
If you visit Margy, rest assured, there is no putescent odor wafting though her yard, but there are thousands of daffodils worshipping the spring sun.
For a hike among huge beds of wilding daffodils, go to the Maze off Corn Neck Road, where they are in full bloom. But the Maze does not match the range of shades and shapes of this flower in Margie’s gardens. That’s why Margy’s gardens are this week’s Picky Pick.