Living as a squatter in the middle of a desert possession has its rewards. We have space, we can breathe, Phil can shoot bows in the yard and we have acres of buffer. Of course, it also means we have to share with the aboriginal inhabitants. Snakes, scorpions, spiders – things I have mentioned in previous posts.
The most blatantly social of our wild neighbors is the javelina. They are quite gregarious and when the first proverbial leaves fall from the trees, the javelinas come around. And when they come, they expect dinner. None of this “If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake” kind of stuff, more the “If you don’t see me coming I will eat your science project/landscape plants/carved pumpkin/random trash in the garage” variety. Many a night we hear thumping the in the garage, only to find we left the door open and they are snacking on anything not nailed down. They ate Andra’s science project paper mache dinosaur – with the surprise coat hanger center.
But without a doubt, my biggest complaint about their dining habits are my plants. Desert plants are hostile. Turns out, for good reason. Most of my first round of non-native plants were very tasty. Entire planters gone in a flash. Whole plants uprooted and mauled. I set out on a googlorama to find javelina resistant plants. Most of the authors of those online articles are delusional. Snack and snack alike, I found. If you ask at any garden store in Tucson you get the same confused “Yea, I think they eat anything. Do you have a fence?”
No. I don’t have a fence. So my quest for the ultimate javelina resistant plant finally led me to High Country Gardens, the best garden catalog for the West. And I took this approach – they have a section in the middle with a full key for all their plants, listing which are low water, no water, butterfly or hummingbird attractors, etc. Best of all, they state if their plants are deer or rabbit resistant. Or both. Here is my required key:
That’s right, full or partial sun, low water, hummingbird attracting, and deer AND rabbit resistant. So last year, I just went down the list and ordered a couple of anything that had these criteria, and had good success. I took a chance on one that was rabbit but not deer resistant, and planted it in the spring. By the time fall came around, they were beautiful, so I ordered 6 more. Just in time for the javelinas to tromp back and decide they love Whirling Butterfiles (gaura). No use planting the new ones, eh?
So we are working through the list of the plants, and recently added the plants from the Xeric Aroma pre-planned garden – otherwise known as the hot and stinky garden. And the good news is, the javelinas must respect anything as stinky as they are, because they have been back around a week or so, and to date, all my plants are still rooted. I can tell they tried a bite of one, and they actually spit it out and left the mangled limbs on the sidewalk. This morning I just sat on the front porch and watched the butterfiles and humminbrids buzz the Sunset Hyssop, and while I won’t say the fat sow has sung, I will say I am cautiously optimistic that I may, someday, have a flower garden.