The Deer Get The Last Laugh

Thursday night the Montauk daisy buds were out in force and on the cusp of blooming —finally!—and the only question in my mind was whether we would see the plant in its full-flowered glory before we returned to Columbus.

But when I awoke on Friday morning I found that the marauding band of deer had paid us an overnight visit, come right up to the stairs, and chewed off dozens of the buds, leaving only one or two sad and shaken reminders of what the daisy could have been. And so two of the principal gardening storylines of the summer — the Great Deer Battle of 2020 and the Waiting for Godot-like delay in the blooming of the Montauk daisy — have coalesced, weeks of anticipation have been dashed, and the thuggish deer herd of the Greenhead peninsula has had the last laugh. May those white tailed reprobates be consigned to some flowerless hell!

But one battle does not determine a war, and the deer’s triumph in 2020 just means I will have to redouble my deer resistance efforts in 2021. I guess you should plan on that when you decide to try gardening in a place called Deer Isle. In the meantime, I’ll be rooting for the hunters of Deer Isle to shoot straight and true when deer season rolls around in a few weeks. In this clash, I could use some allies.

Replanting

Meet the newest member of the plant family at Captain;s Cottage.  It’s a Montauk daisy, also known as a Nippon daisy due to its Japanese heritage, that we replanted at the foot of the stairs to the down yard this week.

The plant was a gift from a neighbor on the Greenhead peninsula.  He was winnowing out his garden, which had gotten a bit overgrown, and this plant was among those to be removed.  As we stopped for a chat, he asked if we’d like to have it for replanting.  I had some trepidation about it, because I’ve never replanted a plant — but fortunately a horticulturist was visiting us and promised to guide me through every step.

It really wasn’t all that difficult.  Our garden-savvy friend first decided which part of the yard would be receptive to the plant, which isn’t an easy task in the rocky Stonington soil.  She identified a spot which gets a lot of sun then guided me through the steps, which included digging a hole about a foot deep and 18 inches wide, carefully placing the plant into the hole, filling the edges of the hole with soil and loosely packing it down, and finally watering the plant liberally, first at the time of replanting and then again the next morning.  By the third day, when a big rainstorm rolled in to give it another dousing, we were hoping the plant had began to take root and will have a chance to do a little growing before the first hard frost of the winter.

We won’t know whether the transplant operation was a success until next spring, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Montauk daisies form a mound, grow to a height of about three feet, and produce lots of flowers.  The plants are so hardy that you are even supposed to divide them after a few years to keep them vigorous, and thereby create two plants where there once was one — but I’m not worried about that now.  I’m just hoping the plant survives, because a thriving Montauk daisy plant would be a great addition to the down yard.