Tag Archives: deer

Late June — Ahead Of The Heat Wave

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox) used to be a garden highlight at this time of year in my previous garden, but foraging deer like it way too much here in this garden. So a couple of years ago I finally just removed all the Garden Phlox, except that a piece here and there still shows up occasionally. As soon as the errant phlox starts to bloom it is snapped up by deer with an eerily keen sense of knowing. This happened just last week, but this morning held a nice surprise. I spotted several phlox that managed to bloom and not be eaten.

Despite a very late planting ten Allium ‘Drumstick’  bulbs are beginning to form flowers on rather thin 24-inch stalks. These are very small, one-inch flowers and look very charming. The bulbs were a gift and were purchased at Biltmore House in Asheville, NC.  The package states these have been in cultivation since 1766 and are deer-resistant.

Allium ‘Drumstick’

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is nearly 5 feet tall now and seems so, so close to blooming, just as the weather forecast is for a few days of excessively high temperatures and high humidity. Today’s 87° F. will give way and move toward extremes, reaching 105° F. on Saturday and Sunday.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Meditation Circle

The entrance to the labyrinth in the meditation circle was still in shadow during this morning’s garden stroll. In the foreground spent spires of Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ jut in every direction.  Last year I did not cut them back after blooming, but this summer I plan to try deadheading it (soon). This penstemon is still blooming and should continue throughout the summer, but certainly not as prolifically as a month ago.

The low-growing Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) has yet to bloom, but it was in flower last year on May 5.  The last few weeks a little bunny has been nibbling at it a bit. I am considering planting more thyme to fill the central area surrounding the gazing ball. This Silver Edge Thyme did not impress during the winter but it now looks very healthy.

In the circle’s center well-behaved mounds of Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) are green and lush, with the newest ones added this spring almost catching up in size with those planted last year.  Around part of  the outer edge the annual, Angelonia ‘Blue,’ adds intense summer color next to a few specimens of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’

Meditation Circle

July Flowers

Rainstorms swept through the region this week, missing this garden more times than not. Big splats, soft mists, ominous thunder, but often it was not even damp under the trees by the end. The flowers seem revived nevertheless and the first of the Cleome (Spider Flower) and Canna opened.

There is a lot of activity in the borders. Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) is popular with a great variety of bees, moths and other insects. Hummingbirds regularly visit the Monarda (Bee Balm) while American Goldfinches enjoy Verbena Bonariensis.

Unfortunately deer jumped the new fence this week to nibble on the daylilies and to devour a container of ornamental Sweet Potato Vines, putting an end to thoughts of keeping the daylilies and even reintroducing Phlox paniculata ‘David’ to the borders.

Among the interesting blooms in the garden this week are:

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’
Shasta Daisy
Salvia ‘Blue Sky’

Mid-June Garden

Gladiolus, Liatris Spicata and Echinacea

The garden is holding up well this week despite a lack of rain or watering.  In the northern bed Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) and the first blooms of Liatris Spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather or Blazing Star) and Gladiolus dominate the view.

Liatris Spicata


In the southern bed, sweet peas and pink yarrows are still pretty although the color is fading on the yarrow. Mexican salvia, with its intense blue flower is coming into its own in the southwest end of the bed, while Lantana, with its multicolor flowers, fills out the southeast corner.


Daylilies, which I had many times threatened to pull out completely in an attempt to keep deer away, have persisted and (now that the fence has deterred the deer so far), they may actually bloom this year.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) is winding down its long blooming period that started in early April, so I cut down most of it this week.  I had never noticed a sensitivity to this plant before, but I developed an itchy red rash on my arms after carrying the trimmings away.  The rash lasted a day or so; fortunately the itch lasted only a half-hour or so.

Several Shasta Daisy flowers opened last week but as a group they are blooming very slowly.  The Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is starting to form buds. Several types of lavender are in flower, which delights the bees. Perovskia (Russian Sage), echinacea and bee balm were introduced last year into some additional areas and they seem to have adapted equally well around the garden.

Echinacea – Purple Coneflower

Echinacea is a native perennial that is touted for its drought-tolerance, but this spring’s plentiful rains really have made the echinacea green and healthy-looking. I’ve moved some of the plants around since last year and am excited to see them adapting in several locations with varying microclimates.

Deer will occasionally taste echinacea, as they did last night, but generally they don’t bother them.

Echinacea purpurea – eastern purple coneflower (Asteraceae)

Progress On The Meditation Garden Circle

Amazing progress. Rains were expected starting with occasional showers this morning, but they never arrived. We need the rain desperately, but its delay gave me time to complete the excavation stage of the meditation circle in the garden. For the most part I stopped counting the hours spent on the job this week, but I clocked 5 hours today. Now after four days, the digging is done.

The grass has been turned over within the entire area of the garden circle. Left behind are clumps that must now be chopped up and smoothed, but the work seems manageable now.

Meanwhile the garden is changing daily and chores are accumulating.  Some plants need to be divided and those daylilies the deer love so much are growing taller and getting tougher, stronger roots with each hour that passes.  As much as I enjoy them, they must go.

The Eastern Red Columbine has a delicate pale green leaf, but the flower itself was today’s attraction as a bit of red is beginning to be revealed.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern Red Columbine)

The spirea continues to be beautiful and full.


The flowering dogwood is going to make a fine display this year.

Flowering Dogwood

End-of-Winter Beginning-of-Spring Inventory

March 20, 2011. Today in this Northern Hemisphere town of Chapel Hill, N.C., the vernal equinox occurs at 6:21 pm.  This seems like a good time to inventory the garden.

The newly planted Blue Point Juniper hedge is doing well, but will not be providing much screening for several years.


The earliest of the daffodils and the burgundy hyacinths are at the end of their bloom cycle. Iberis sempervirens (candytuft) and  Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) are opening slowly. Several sedums are emerging (the rabbits must be pleased).

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) is coming up in various spots and a few echinacea (Purple coneflower) have returned.

The first flower is open today on the White Flowering Dogwood, while ‘Flower Carpet’ Narcissus have been lovely for a week or more.

Coral Delight Camellia

A nice surprise in the garden today.

The spring-blooming camellia ‘Coral Delight’ popped out when I was not looking. I missed checking on it yesterday and today discovered several blossoms had opened wide.

Daylilies attract the deer so I am trying to pull out many of them.  I must hurry to finish the job before they grow any larger or they will be too tough to dig out. Some of the resulting space freed so far was used to transplant a few Shasta daisies.

Hellebore- Lenten Rose

Hellebore (Lenten Rose), which opened one month ago, continue to bloom profusely in their charming manner.

The newly planted Sweet William is doing well and the evergreen HeucheraPenstemon is recovering from the long winter. Digitalis Purpurea ‘Alba’ or ‘Camelot White’ (Foxglove) looks promising.

Small pink yarrow, tansy, lamb’s ears and rose campion (shown here), all rather aggressive growers, are coming back strong.

The old-fashioned spirea is the star in its section of the garden, brightening up the entire space of the western border.  (A pink saucer magnolia behind the spirea is a fortunate example of a borrowed view.)


Nearby the Eastern Redbud competes for attention, deservedly so.


Just one week ago the Jackmanii clematis had new leaves, but was still largely brown. Today it is lush with green.


Several black-eyed Susans echinacea (purple coneflower) seem pleased with their new location along the southern path. They were transplanted last year from an over-crowded spot where they did not have have enough sun.

Russian Sage and Bee Balm

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) is another transplant to this section of the garden; Monarda (Bee Balm) is just starting to emerge in this and several other sections of the garden.

Phlox subulata (Creeping Phlox) has been blooming all over town but started opening only today in this garden.

Creeping Phlox

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) has been a favorite in this garden, but it has not bloomed well in several years.

Woodland phlox

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern Red Columbine) is quickly unfolding in several spots around the garden.

Eastern red columbine

Salvia (Meadow Sage) has started to form buds.

Meadow Sage

An iceberg rose should have been pruned earlier, but it is now getting its leaves. The deer find it delicious. There are several perky mounds of catmint. Sword-like leaves of these bearded iris seem to grow inches daily. The garden also has German, Japanese and Siberian iris and a couple of Dutch iris.

Catmint, Iceberg Rose and Iris

In some ways the garden appears bare but there are many other plants not even mentioned.  The inventory will have to be continued later.  One last thought for today though.

As I go about renovating this garden, I do recognize that improving the overall design and structure (or “bones) will make the garden more interesting year-round.  I have read that just having a collection of plants does not make a garden.  But at this time of year seeing my particular group of plants develop and mature provides immeasurable delight and satisfaction.  It is like having old friends come to visit.  And it feels like a garden.

March Surprises

Garden surprises abound today including two bitten off daffodils, which is highly unusual. Suspiciously, deer tracks abound as well.

Elsewhere the daffodils look lovely and seem not to mind that it was twenty-nine degrees last night.


Artemesia shows new growth, as does the hydrangea and the clematis.

Iris gain height daily.

A heart-shaped leaf must be a redbud volunteer.

Near the front walk a few deep magenta hyacinths emerge from among the newly opening candytuft at the base of the crape myrtles.

Garden Plants the Deer Allow Me To Enjoy

Evergreen candytuft

Iberis sempervirens - Candytuft

Six new Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) are ready to be added to the garden this weekend and the deer will most likely pass them by unharmed.

Drought and deer cause serious damage in my central North Carolina garden, but the deer are more annoying. Neighborhood rules prohibit erecting a twelve-foot fence and none of the expensive garden sprays, homemade solutions, smelly soaps have worked well enough to provide peace of mind. With remarkable savvy, deer take advantage of that one break in the repellent application schedule to devour the phlox paniculata or daylily flowers that opened only moments before.

Last summer with sadness I finally pulled up these treasured garden mainstays, the phlox and daylilies, that used to provide color throughout much of the summer. What can a gardener do?

Some plants in this garden though have been ignored by deer. Although every list of deer-resistant plants comes with the warning deer will eat these too if they are hungry enough, to date these plants have been safely grown.

Perennials, Bulbs, Shrubs

Aquilegia spp. (Columbine)
A. italicum (Arum)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)
Artemisia spp.
Buddleia spp. (Butterfly bush) (potentially invasive)
Colocasia esculenta (Elephant ear)
Dianthus spp.
Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)
Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)
Echinacea spp. (Coneflower)
Echinops ritro (Globe Thistle)
Eupatorium (Joe-Pye Weed)
Gardenia jasminoides (Gardenia)
Hyacinthus spp. (Hyacinths)
Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)
Iris spp.
Lavandula (Lavender)
Liatris (Gayflower)
Lychnis spp. (Rose Campion)
Monarda didyma (Bee Balm)
Muscari spp. (Grape Hyacinths)
Narcissus spp. (Daffodils)
Nepeta spp. (Cat Mint)
Perovskia spp. (Russian sage)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
Salvia spp.
Spirea spp. (Spirea)
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s ear)
Tanacetum (Tansy)
Verbena bonariensis (Verbena)
Veronica spp. (Speedwell)


Campanula media (Canterbury Bells)
Cleome hasslerana (Spider Flower)
Dahlia spp. (Dahlia)
Impatiens balsama (Balsam impatiens)
Lantana camara (Lantana
Pelargonium spp. (Scented Geranium)
Portulaca grandiflora (Rose Moss)
Senecio cineraria (Dusty Miller)
Tagetes spp. (Marigold)
Zinnia spp. (Zinnia)

Pruning My Garden Options

Renovating the garden this year is exciting, yet overwhelming.  There are so many decisions; sometimes they seem to be firmly made.  Another day, the doubts are back.  A bit like life itself.

Visiting a garden center today did little to help finalize plant choices. Camellias.  What a lovely choice for a hedge: evergreen and very Southern. With the right selections, there could be blooms throughout the year or all at once in a mass of soft color.  But–is there too much sun; will the deer ruin them; do they require too much water?

Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’.  Possibly a good choice, but will it get too tall and overpower the perennial beds?  The winter color seems drab. Can make-do without a lot of watering, once established — a necessity for survival in this garden.

The garden center had some 3-4 foot pots that would make great accents in the garden. Using several of these would add height immediately, so smaller, less expensive specimens could make a big impact right away.

A meditation path still holds intrigue.  Stepping stones interplanted with creeping thyme would awaken the senses and offer a joyous way to experience the garden.  My old garden had such a path, and although it had not been conceived as a meditation path, each step did lead friends laughingly through the phlox, iris, coreopsis, zinnias, gladioli.

May decide to enclose the yard with a four-foot picket fence, the only style and height allowed in the neighborhood, having already installed the maximum amount of six-foot privacy on one side several years ago.  An expensive option, the deer could breech it, but might it deter them some?

It is not hard to select numerous things that would make a garden wonderful.  The difficulty is pruning my garden options.