January 13, 2008

The Deer in Winter

Our winter here in North Carolina has been fairly mild so far. We've had a few days here and there of really cold temps. This weekend, I took note of the blooming forsythia and quince in our area.

The deer herd is here most every night. Judging from all the tracks in the mulch in the outer garden, they are foraging for food. Based upon last winter's foraging experience, I put a little 32" high wire edging fence around the cleyera and illicium evergreen shrubs. I placed the fence in a circle around the shrubs. Far enough away to make the deer stretch for a nibble, yet close enough that they don't jump inside the little fence. They leave both the cleyera and illicium alone in the summer, but will eat these if they get desperate for food in winter. I also encircle our southern magnolia with the same type edging fence to keep the bucks from rubbing their antlers on the tree.

My winter daphne is now blooming. The deer leave this alone.

They have taken a bite of the chaemacyparis 'cream ball', but obviously spit out the foliage as I've found the evidence next to the shrubs. The shrubs are not damaged.

The deer haven't touched the cotoneaster (several varieties), the clumping bamboo, the ornamental grasses, or our hollies. There are some types of hollies that are appealing to the deer, but apparently our hollies are not interesting to our particular deer herd. We have cornuta 'carissa', vomitoria varieties, and large hybrid oak leaf.

The heuchera have all been nibbled severely. In the summer, those are underneath my colocasia with monarda and buddleia blooming close by. All were left alone when protected by the other plants in the summer. Therefore, I don't protect my heuchera from deer damage in the winter. All of the heuchera varieties (lime, peach, purple) came back out with lush foliage last summer.

All of the other deer tolerant perennials are either untouched, or have died back for the winter so there is no concern. I leave the seed heads on many of the perennials to provide food and shelter for the birds.

We are in still a drought. As such, I've not spent a lot of time planning to extend the garden this year. When spring approaches, I'll decide whether or not to take on a new area. Even drought tolerant plants need rain to get established. Since our fall was extremely dry, I postponed new bulb planting until next fall.

Happy Gardening!
Cameron

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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