Volunteer Carol Davies and the Friends of the Native Plant Garden are trying to get a deer fence built around the heritage garden

Hungry deer eating away at Oak Bay’s native plant garden

Concerned group proposing that deer fence be put around area

As tiny nibbles begin adding up to a destructive force, a group of Oak Bay residents is working toward protecting the Native Plant Garden from an onslaught of hungry deer.

“To see these four-legged beauties just munching away, (it’s) just very hard,” said Friends of the Native Plant Garden volunteer Carol Davies. “A lot of these plants are becoming quite rare.”

The garden, on the corner of Beach Drive and Margate Avenue, is a home for increasingly rare native species of plants which are cared for by the team of determined volunteers. Many of the plants in the garden have been salvaged from other areas, often slated for development, and brought to the garden for safekeeping.

Davies said many of the mornings she comes to work in the garden, she has to chase the deer out.

“I think they were living in there, sleeping in there,” she said. Davies is fond of the deer otherwise, but wishes they could feast elsewhere.

One example of the deer’s work is a patch of chocolate lilies the volunteer gardeners had been cultivating. The native plants have now mostly all been decapitated.

The group is proposing an eight-foot-tall deer fence to surround the property. Davies laments it will be a bit of an eyesore, but believes the benefits will outweigh the cost.

“I would just as soon there not be any fence at all, it just be left as is,” Davies said. “But it’s just so discouraging.”

Oak Bay’s Parks and Recreation Commission has already approved the idea.

As the garden is a heritage site, the Heritage Foundation, which is funded by the municipality, has agreed to fund 25 per cent of the project, just under $2,000.

The group is now waiting for the proposal to go before district council, both for approval of the project and to potentially fund the outstanding cost. If they get the first but not the latter, the group will then look toward fundraising or donations to make up the shortfall.

Total cost for the project is estimated at $7,385, for both the materials and the labour according to an early Oak Bay staff report.

Council approved the expenditure at Committee of the Whole on May 21. “It’s the only way to protect what are very rare plantings,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “It’s very important.”

reporter@vicnews.com