When I began gardening here in a forested community in the autumn of 2009, my earliest efforts resulted in unexpected frustration as deer, rabbits, moles and voles ate much of what I planted. I still remember planting a flat of perennial Phlox plants and finding them gone the following morning, nothing left but holes where they had been planted only hours before.
Even plants that I expected to be ‘deer proof,’ like a new hedge of hybrid blue holly shrubs, died within months from the stress or repeated grazing. That frustration set me on a path to re-learn how to garden in such a ‘wildlife friendly’ environment.
Over a decade later, I’m still learning. But I’ve discovered a growing list of plants that the deer in our area leave strictly alone; plants that can be planted with confidence that they’ll be left alone for the gardener to enjoy. But ‘deer proof’ isn’t the only quality I’m looking for in plants. I also want beautiful plants that are reasonably easy to grow, persistent and that will support other wildlife. I want functional plants that serve a variety of purposes within the novel ecosystem of our community.
I began writing about these special plants for a local garden newsletter in May of 2021. The original set of nine articles has been republished here, with articles about additional plants on my ‘deer proof’ planting list added from time to time. I hope these articles will prove helpful to others who are trying to enjoy a garden where deer roam freely.
Gardening should be fun and bring joy to our lives. That is why I am always happy to discover a new group of plants that thrive in our climate, grow beautifully without a lot of fuss, and that don’t attract the attention hungry deer looking for the salad bar. Allow me to share another of my favorites….
Beautiful and Easy: The Lady Ferns May 2022
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Narcissus March 2022
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Ajuga February 2022
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Mahonia January 2022
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Hellebores December 2021
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Italian Arum November 2021
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Evergreen Ferns October 2021
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Rosemary September 2021
Plants I Love That Deer Ignore: Verbena July 2021