Letter: Gardens under assault

Unnecessary watering restrictions and prolific deer wreak havoc with the Garden City

Gardening in Victoria is becoming less and less viable. The CRD may put further restrictions on water usage during the dry months. This is ridiculous when you consider:

• The reservoir allows for a two-year cushion, meaning that it can withstand back to back droughts over a two-year period. We have yet to enter a summer with less than 100 per cent of capacity since the reservoir was increased in 2003.

• Climate change is increasing wet season rainfall in Victoria.

• Even though we had a near-record dry summer in 2015, the reservoir has been spilling water since mid-December.

• Water pricing is based on cost recovery. As consumption goes down (which it has since watering restrictions), the unit price increases. This increases costs to gardeners, farmers and the price of local produce while the cost of imports is rising. It is also counter to the 100-mile diet.

• We are told “golden is the new green” for lawns, to let them go brown. Grass that receives no irrigation in summer is replaced by weeds. Weed control requires herbicide as over time there are too many to pull by hand. This isn’t “green.”

Our politicians have allowed an increasing deer population to consume more and more of our gardens. The trunks of plants are often used as scraping posts for antlers (causing severe plant distress). Serious deer damage has become evident in all of our prized public parks. Farms have shut down as deer eat their crops. Netting some plants (it’s too difficult to net them all) only goes so far, looks ugly and makes gardening difficult. Discarded netting (mine often blows off) can harm wild animals that accidentally get caught in it.

Attractive plant species that bring tourists, such as rhododendrons, roses, hydrangeas and Japanese maples need sufficient irrigation. Many have recently died or are stressed due to lack of irrigation. Adding further restrictions, and a growing deer problem, will result in gardens more like Calgary.

Using water wisely within the ability for the reservoir to replenish itself makes sense. The squandering of water by encouraging unnecessary conservation resulting in more spilling over the dam (causing increasing water rates) and letting deer run roughshod over gardens, reduces the joy, health benefits, food production and beautification of gardening. It seems our leaders are more concerned with political correctness than the well-being of the majority of those that elected them.

If nothing changes we may find that our nickname the “City of Gardens” is changed to the “District of Dry, Dead and Deer-Damaged Vegetation.”

Jeff St. Gelais

Saanich