In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Garden of inductive reasoning

My wildflower garden experiment so far has led me to conclude that yarrow, mallow and ox-eye daisies are all greatly enjoyed by sheep. Safe within the fence, where the sheep can't reach them, they have all grown into lovely plants. But out around the island, where they grow in the old fields and along the roads and where the sheep can eat their fill, the same flowers make a meager showing.
Now I can add another flower to the list. Last fall I dug up a few spindly, pitiful little asters and planted them in the wildflower garden. When you see them around the island -- as in this photograph from along the bog path -- they look like something hiding out. It didn't seem like they had it in them to do very well in the garden, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Inside the garden, the stems and leaves began to come up in early summer. They were growing into plants so tall and graceful, so beautiful, really, that I wasn't sure it could be the same thing I had planted in those spots last fall. Maybe something else had blown in instead. Day after day I looked at them wonderingly.

I noticed that some of the stems and leaves were chewed off on the side of the plant nearest the fence. Later I caught sheep lolling about just outside the fence with their hands in their pockets, whistling innocently. And then one morning I shooed three lambs away as they shoved their muzzles between the pickets to get a taste.
According to this scientific experiment, sheep love asters. I'm happy for them to have all the asters they can eat, everywhere else on the island.
But not these.

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