As we face our first week of frigid temperatures, I have been thinking about those plants in the garden that survived the season without major deer damage. Often they are the truly faithful that we see often in so many gardens, for the obvious reason that they are not browsed by deer. Some of my favorites are herbaceous perennials that, for the most part, come back bigger and stronger every year. Alchemilla mollis, or Lady’s mantle, was one of my best performers this year, perhaps a bit overused, in the right location and planted en masse can make a strong statement. Its large, chartreuse leaves collect rain drops that sit on their surface like jewels. From summer to early fall the foliage is almost hidden by clouds of tiny yellow blooms.
There are many different varieties of this plant in the market today, from ground covers to specimens that reach two feet tall. It thrives in any soil and likes part shade.
One of our best defenses against deer browsing is to find different varieties of plants that they do not like. Salvia sp. or Sage for example, a great plant for bees and butterflies, is now available in various forms and colors so that they almost look like a completely different plant. This past summer I purchased two specimens of Salvia ramerosa, Sensation white and Sensation pink, and both bloomed for the entire summer in a compact clump of upright spikes of flowers.
Salvia grows in full sun and tolerates dry soil.
I have come across many sites that give you a good overall list of deer resistant plants – a must have when shopping for those new additions for our garden.
“Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.” ~Henry David Thoreau, “Chesuncook,” The Maine Woods, 1848