Sharing the garden with other species is generally a pleasure – birds sing, frogs jump - and sometimes make us jump when they do it - and the hedgehogs rustle through the undergrowth. Worms and beetles working alongside countless other creatures are turning the soil and mixing in the layers of material put down on the surface.
Robins are welcome...
I enjoy the presence of most wildlife very much, but there are other creatures who, I am sorry to say, are not so welcome. One is the muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi), a small deer introduced from Asia in the early 20th century. After escaping from captivity, or being released, its numbers have increased and it has made itself a comfortable home in the English countryside.
but I'd like the muntjac to go somewhere else
At first I was charmed to see one, since they are known to be timid animals, then they got into the vegetable garden and I changed my mind. The first we saw of them were the prints of cloven hoofs across the bed of ornamentals, put in to attract pollinators and add colour. My beautiful blue-flowered Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’, so loved by bees, was a now a clump of ragged stems. A Hemerocallis, given to me by a kind neighbour and which had been about to flower, was missing all its flower buds. The brightly coloured Euphorbia griffithii 'Dixter' was less popular and had only been nibbled at round the edges and then left alone.
Muntjac deer don't seem to like herbs, so the rosemary, thyme and oregano plants were untouched, but the vegetables are a draw to these browsers. Cabbages, beans, carrot and parsnip foliage, lettuces, courgettes – all those lovingly cared for vegetables being eaten, and not by me.
The brassica cages earlier in the year
There was nothing for it but to replace the brassica cages we’d made earlier in the year to protect the plants from cabbage white butterfly caterpillars. They are not pretty and they make weeding and harvesting a bit awkward, but they do the job. Sorry, muntjac, you’ll have to eat someone else’s vegetables!
Information .pdf on deer from the Forestry Commission