When Deer Are A Consideration Some Plants Are Better Than Others
We've spent some time talking about garden design principles that improve our probability of success if we have deer pressure as an issue, Eric would next like to discuss some specific plants within some of the categories we discussed. For example, as far as plants with fuzzy leaves. We could use something like Lamb’s ear-Stachys byzantine-that deer don't really like to eat. What are some of the plants in the category of toxic plants that our viewers could find at garden centers? At the ground level Cynthia uses Geranium Biokovo. It seems to have a toxic leaf. She has trialed it at the edge of her garden and it's never been browsed at all. Ferns are not vulnerable, except early spring when deer may eat the fiddlehead. If they do you will likely see a grouping of ferns that look they've been clipped off, like someone took a weed eater to them. And that can be a deterrent for people. Cynthia loves cephalotaxus because they come in every form, one that looks like a Christmas tree or the prostrata that will be like a ground cover. Combine that with the bold leaves of hellebores and you've got a great combination.
Of course, any of the big woodland trees are going to be a great idea because they're out of the range of where deer can eat them. Let’s talk about some of the mid to large size shrubs that work well in a deer populated area. For large evergreens, Cynthia uses the American holly, ilex opaca, agarista populifolia, and the various anise species, illicium parviflorum, and illicium floridanum. For midsize evergreens she likes the smaller forms of the osmanthus, pieris japonica, mountain fire with new red growth, or the variegata with its orange color - stunning, growth in spring, gorgeous. If one has time for them to grow large, the native mountain laurel selections can be a bonus when they bloom.
Cynthia tells people that if you want a low maintenance, deer resistant garden, plant trees that will ultimately be big trees and ferns. That's a low maintenance combination.