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April 27, 2017

A Texas girl dishes on life in the Rockies - High Altitude Gardening by Karilyn Bentley

What I want my garden to look like
You know those perfect gardens and manicured lawns you see around big cities? They're pretty, aren't they? Unfortunately, those aren't available where I live. I guess if you wanted to hire a bunch of people to dig up rocks and plant flowers you might be able to make a go of a garden. Until the next herd of deer or elk come walking through it the next day, eating everything you planted.

When we first moved here, I wanted to continue having a garden like the one I had in Texas. Nothing much, just some veggies and a few flowering plants. I love growing my own vegetables, although the insects would always manage to eat them, sometimes before The Hubster and I could. I was super-excited to try out  my hand at gardening in the mountains where there aren't the same doggone leaf eating insects. So we went to the local gardening store and bought a flowering plant claiming to be able to live to -20 degrees Fahrenheit and a plant of chrysanthemums. I was determined to have them live and bloom. My front flowerbeds were going to look awesome! Then a lady walked up, chuckling, asked if we were new to town. When I said we were, she responded with a thought so, those plants should be advertised as deer food, only the new arrivals try to plant plants. I laughed, but was determined to get them to grow, to spread, to smell and look pretty. To prove that lady wrong.

But yep, they became deer food, right down to the roots.
What my garden actually looks like
Although they did try valiantly to hold on to life and might even have come back, if it weren't for an Arctic front that dropped the temps below 0.

Okay, lesson learned, no pretty flowers. Disappointed, I decided to try again and planted a whole box of daffodils and tulips. Six tulips attempted to come up. They don't look so hot, eh?
Sick looking tulips
But at least the deer haven't eaten them.

So far.

The Hubster and I plan to put in some local plants that bloom at high altitude and that are deer resistant. Like Russian sage and anything in the mint family. Apparently deer don't like plants in the mint family. Or rosemary. We shall see.

Meanwhile, I have a new book out! In case you missed it, Demon Cursed, the 3rd book in the Demon Huntress series, is available in an online store by you! Isn't the cover awesome? If you've already read it, may I ask that you leave a review on Amazon? Authors love reviews! :)

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Stop back next time to see if I managed to get a plant to live and grow and maybe even bloom. Anyone on here know anything about gardening at high altitude?

Happy Reading!

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Sylvia said...

Good information!! My plan is that the yard will be landscapped with the local plants when we build our house in Pagosa this year. We'll see how well they do since I know we have deer and bear who go through our yard. Miss you!!


Oh I feel your pain. Our deer eat whatever we plant, and leave the weeds. It's infuriating! One thing that works is to hang Irish Spring soap (I hang them from spikes that support tomato plants). The animals don't like the smell. I'll admit, it looks totally ridiculous, but I've found it to be successful. Good luck!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Good luck Sylvia! Let me know how that works for you. We need to do that to. Seems like natives are the only way to go. I miss you too!

Hi Jennifer, thank you for stopping by! I love that suggestion. I haven't heard of using soap to ward off deer. I'll have to try that. Thank you!!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Karilyn! yup, they eat. Someone told me at Feed Stores there is a product you can sprinkle around and the deer stay away. I've seen them eat roses! Mostly, in my neighborhood, there's quite a smorgasbord and they don't stay long.

Barbara Bettis said...

Oh, my gosh!! I so identify. Not that we lived in mountains, exactly, but in a place that, I swear, grew rocks! I tried so many different flowers every spring--nothing. We lived in the country, so either the animals ate them (ala your deer) or the red clay/rocks discouraged competition. I finally got a tiny stand of tulips to live and my DH's grandmother's iris around the porch. Then, of course, we moved :) Good luck with your search. And, Jennifer, I love your suggestion!! I will definitely remember it. Karilyn, I have your book just waiting for me on my Kindle. Hope to get to it very soon!!!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Vicki! I think that product is predator urine. My MIL claims it doesn't work. They don't like rosemary, so I guess that's good. :)

Hi Barbara! Rocks can discourage plants from growing. Murphy's Law on getting them to grow and then moving. ha! :) I hope you enjoy the book! Happy Reading!!

CB Clark said...

Enjoyed reading your blog, Karilyn. I live in the country and have long given up gardening. Between the deer and the moose, not much is left. I had some beautiful cedars and they were eaten one winter by a herd of deer living behind our house. Like you, I've resorted to local plants that are frost-resistant and not tasty for deer palates. Good luck with the gardening. Always an adventure.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Thank you C.B.! I've noticed the elk eating the trees. I wouldn't think pine needles are edible, but hey, what do I know? :) Local plants seem to be the only way to go. Good luck with your garden! It is an adventure! :)

Unknown said...

I love growing things, too. And I love a challenge. I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast and brought tiny saplings from the Lasalle Mountains in Utah to try to grow. My husband thought I was nuts. Planted Five. Five died. :) Now, I can grow some pineapples!

Best of luck with your book and your plants!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Thank you for stopping by Sandra! I'm sorry that your saplings didn't make it. Good luck with the pineapples! Hopefully they'll grow for you!

Mary Gillgannon said...

I didn't try gardening until I had lived in the Rocky Mountain area (southeast Wyoming) for years, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into. The key to my garden is that I water...a lot. Of course, I live in a city and although we have some watering restrictions, in recent years they haven't been too harsh. And I because we live in town, we don't have deer, although I've had antelope come through and nibble on my front yard flower beds. But usually it's late in the season or in the winter when they come into town so I don't begrudge them because they're so pretty.

If you can't water, my advice would be catmint, yarrow and California poppies. They all tolerate pretty arid conditions and I know the catmint at least won't get eaten by deer. (Although cats love to roll in it and nibble on it, hence the name.) And there are others. There's a company, High Country Gardens, which specializes in xeroscapic plants and I'm sure they have some that deer don't like. The key to all gardening is finding the right plant for the right spot.