For many years I was a city girl, working in a downtown office, but when I met my partner Jody things began to change. We were both small town kids and while the city has its fun it wasn't the right environment for us. So we packed up our bags and moved to Bowen Island which is located just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia. Living on Bowen Island provided the best of both worlds. We were close enough that we could continue working in the city but our home was a small quiet rural community. Best of all we were able to rent a small house on 2 acres of land with amazing landlords who were quite happy to let me dig up their yard as much as I pleased.
My desires started out small, with a couple packets of bulbs at the hardware store. I was so excited to see those bulbs come up in the spring. The daffodils were dainty and beautiful, the muscari were like tiny bunches of grapes and the tulips a bright shade of pink.
And then they disappeared.... overnight.
Oh those pesky deer.
And so began my own troubles with deer but unlike my mother I couldn't build a fortress out of fencing. It wasn't our property so my solution couldn't be permanent. Instead chicken wire and old railings got put to use in a semi-temporary sort of way.
|An old deck railing was repurposed as a fence|
In addition to my struggles with deer I also came to realize that I had shade. A lot of shade. Those pretty bright flowers that I craved would not grow in my yard. They would flop over, refuse to grow, or never sprout a single flower. Initially my gardening experience was frustrating but I believe these poor circumstances made me a better gardener for I became more obstinate and insisted on finding plants that would grow. I combed the seed and plant catalogues for any plant that could withstand low light conditions. Annuals like the lobelia erinus and mimulus pictured below offered the bright flowers I was craving but could stand the low light.
But even shade loving plants aren't all created equal. I discovered there was a difference between dry shade and wet shade. I discovered that even though some plants are labelled as shade tolerant they have different levels of tolerance. Astilbes for instance will survive in quite a bit of shade but will not flower unless they have a portion of sun each day.