Einstein’s Garden TipsJuly 15, 2012
Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
For several years now, I’ve listened to the complaints of gardeners around Bloomington bemoaning the loss of plants to deer and rabbits who they say are devastating their gardens. Every year , they sigh, they watch their hostas nibbled away. Hostas? Sure, I love hostas, too, and have some wonderful varieties in my shade garden, but . . . .
At first I was sympathetic. After all, I’m a gardener, too, and I do everything myself, planting, weeding, tending, trimming, etc., and therefore have not only mucho mega-$$$$ involved in the plants I buy and fertilize, but a lot of “sweat equity,” and I do mean, SWEAT. So, yes, it’s disheartening to watch your favorite plant gone in the flash of a second.
But then I realized that every year I was hearing the same complaints, and I began to wonder why. Not why the deer were eating the plants, as predicted, but why gardeners kept planting and tending the same thing over and over! (See Einstein’s definition again above.)
So here’s what one gardener did. Upon discovering the massive plantings of my prize day lilies were being chomped out front, I decided to try something else. First, I read that deer like the buds, not the blossoms, and I had a choice to cover the buds. Nah, too much work. So I just dug them all up and put them around back behind a small fence where the deer don’t seem to visit. Day lilies were replaced with other plants that I selected from extensive lists of deer-resistant plants, and so far, so good.
Yup, it’s really as easy as that. I went to the local co-op and began researching native and deer-resistant plants. Quick aside: the bunnies are also active chewers. And my tomatoes suffer from assaults by chipmunks, birds, and squirrels, though there’s plenty to go around, and until I put a small fence around my greens, Bugs and his pals had a field day out there eating salad.
Rethinking a garden is necessary every so often, anyway, because of changes in weather, shifts in shade patterns, etc. So last year I decided to learn more about native plants, as well as deer-resistant plants So what do I grow, you say? Just about everything.This year both my gardens (back and front) are flourishing. There are even ome of my hostas tucked out back away from Bambi. But out front where a small deer family roams, they are leaving everything alone. Here is a partial list to help you get started:
1) Monarda (bee balm) in regal red, pastels like lavender, white, and pink, etc.
2) Yarrow (gorgeous blooms in all sorts of colors float above feathery stems)
3) Iris (all colors)
4) Peonies (all colors)
5) Echineaccea (and now you can move beyond the traditional pink to gorgeous salmons, reds, whites, yellows, and even greens!)
6) Liatris (colors galore)
7) Gladiola (right now the reds are blindingly beautiful)
9) Swamp milkweed
10) Eutrochium(commonly called Joe Pye-weed), flowering, herbaceous plant
12) Anise hyssop (so many colors to choose from, it’s a veritable smorgasbord)
13) Coreopsis (gorgeous, floaty)
14) Butterfly bush and butterfly weed (and you’ll have butterflies and hummingbirds everywhere!)
15) Salvia (wonderful purple/blue flowers on long stalks)
16) Russian sage (smells super good and looks a look like lavender)
17) Rose campion (beautiful colors)
18) Helleborus (gorgeous shade plants)
19) Foxglove (all colors, tall stalks, bell-shaped flowers)
20) Hardy geranium
21) Bleeding heart
22) Rose of Sharon
23) Black-eyed Susan
24) Daisies (tall shastas are some of my favorites)
25) Cardinal flower (bright red)
Bushes like yews, boxwoods, evergreens, etc., thrive like crazy. It’s also fun to organize plantings in ways that deer are less likely to pester. I still grow things deer love, but close to the front of my house where my comings and goings keep them at bay, and I hide plants behind things they don’t like. So actually I do have day lilies that bloom out front, but they’re in the middle of plantings and just too much trouble to get to.
Like most wildlife, deer are opportunistic feeders. It’s not personal!
Put together by Alyce Miller