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Lifestyle Home & Garden

Novelty garden: Deer-resistant containers of joy

Fe Reyes-Dollete and Roldolfo Dollete's patio container garden grew out of desperation.

For 30 years the couple, who are both physicians, tried to grow flowers and vegetables on their suburban property, only to watch deer consume all they grew.

Reyes-Dollete recalls one year she managed to grow a particularly beautiful daylily. She went to get her camera to take a picture of it, and when she returned it was gone, eaten by a deer she saw standing in the yard.

The couple decided to move their garden to their patio. Now they have vegetables, herbs and fruit trees growing in more than 60 containers and providing a source of fresh produce just steps from their kitchen.

The garden features an astounding variety in a small space, including string beans, snow peas, bitter melon, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant and, this year for the first time, sweet corn. Three varieties of jasmine provide a heavy, sweet fragrance the couple enjoys when they sit out on their patio in the evenings. A trellis heavy with kiwi berries provides a natural barrier to the deer, which still lurk outside.

Reyes-Dollete says she grew to love gardening as a child growing up in the Philippines. "Nothing beats cooking the vegetables and having them right away," she says. "It's so different from the ones you buy in the grocery."

Container gardening, however, presents a watering challenge, and she estimates she spends three hours every morning watering her plants. But she says she doesn't mind the effort.

"They give me so much happiness and joy," she says.

Favorite plants: Reyes-Dollete can't name a favorite plant. "I don't want to make any of them jealous," she says. "I love them all."

Advice: Reyes-Dollete says those with small spaces can benefit from container gardening. "You don't need to have a big lot to do this," she says.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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