We’ve got some unusual deer-resistant plants in our Grass Valley nursery right now. Are any of these new to you? Our nursery specializes in deer-resistant, drought-tolerant, and native plants. Nursery Manager, Linnie McNaughton, gives us her planting tips for this group:
Creeping bramble (Rubus calycinoides) is an industrial-strength ground cover that you can walk on. It’s a slowish grower, works in sun to part-shade, and needs moderate water. Pair this evergreen mat with ginger in part-shade, or prostrate rosemary in full sun. It’s especially lovely at the base of a smoke tree, where the reddish underside of the bramble leaf echoes the tree color. For USDA zones 6-10.
Sun rose (Helianthumum) is a perennial that takes a few years to settle in, but it’s well worth the wait. Happy in full sun with low water, it will form a nicely-shaped, low mound about a foot tall. The variety ‘Ben Nevis’ is flat with orange flowers, unlike the taller sun roses.
Bishop’s weed (Aegopodium podagraria) can be invasive (hence the common name) but if you garden in a challenging environment, it might be just the ticket. Preferring part-shade, it’s pretty under dogwoods, mixed with Japanese anemones (which can also get out of control) and Lily of the valley. If you have a hospitable garden where plants race around, plant this one in a container—it looks especially good in a whitish pot or trough. USDA zones 3-9.
Have you seen this lovely Ornamental oregano ‘Kent Beauty’? The pink and chartreuse bracts are as pretty as any flowers and it has the wonderful herbal fragrance too. Mmm! Plant it in full sun with low water, and let it drape over rocks or container edges. Perennial in USDA zones 6-11.
Liriope muscari has purple flowers in late summer through the fall. Whether you choose the solid or the variegated leaf varieties, it’s a good, clumping companion with Blue plumbago, Japanese anemones, and Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ (which has purple leaves). USDA zones 6-9.
A classic for the shade garden, Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ combines well with Creeping bramble, Lily of the valley, and Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’. If you don’t need to worry about deer, plant it with hostas in the ground. Have deer but love hostas? Try hostas and this lamium in containers on your front steps where the deer may fear to tread. One reason it’s so popular? Hardy in USDA zones 3-10. Another reason? We don’t call it by its common name: Spotted dead nettle. Who’d want to grow that?
Robert Kourik Says:
Aug 12th, 2011 at 8:11 am
The deer eat 3 of these in my garden. I don’t know how a book for the national market can list only 50 plants for the entire US. And not to mention the regional aspects of this. I have a fortnight lily 40 feet from another. After 20 years the deer now eat them. But one by 80%, the other by 30% (or so). Explain that.
Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Aug 12th, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Deer will eat just about anything when they are hungry enough. And different deer in the same area will have different “palates” in what they are willing to try. I think that’s why gardeners have stopped talking about “deer-proof” plants, since there is no such thing. Deer-resistant gives you much better odds.
I wonder if the deer feel safer close to your 80% eaten lily than the 30% eaten lily?
In my own Nevada County garden I have followed the suggestions in Carolyn Singer’s “Deer in My Garden” books with 100% success. She is a Nevada County writer and one her interesting appendices is a list of plants that others put on deer-resistant lists but that have been munched in her garden.
One of my favorites, Bush clover (Lespedeza thunbergii), is big and fluffy, in spite of the doe and fawn currently sheltering in my shrubbery.
What are your best bets in Sonoma County for deer resistance?