The 11 acres that comprise the Marin Art & Garden Center are a mix of planted beds, paved paths, various structures and buildings; the area that is left to run wild is comparatively small. Nevertheless, like most of Marin County, we host a wide variety of wildlife here, whether welcome or not. Gardening can sometimes seem like a series of defensive maneuvers against bugs, birds, and bigger beasts who enjoy our carefully tended plants as much as we do, just not in the same way. MAGC is not a certified organic landscape, but we have shifted away from chemical pest control methods wherever possible. Garden Manager Steven Schwager will be attending a workshop as part of the American Public Garden Association’s Sentinel Plant Network next month where he will learn more about early detection of pests and diseases as a means of deterring major outbreaks. Rats, gophers and other rodents are kept under control by the hungry family of owls who move into our owl box in early spring. White-tailed or Mule deer notoriously sample even the plants “guaranteed” to be deer-proof; we use a foul-smelling organic concoction that does help deter them, but every so often we arrive in the morning to find the all tender leaves or blossoms have been neatly nipped off some plant or other. Even though this space is more tame than not, catching a glimpse of a gray fox or feeling the watchful eye of a red-shouldered hawk lets us know that we are sharing this wonderful, natural environment.