I could scream. As soon as leaves emerged , deer munched the lower leaves of the small, variegated horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Memmingeri’, below) planted a year ago. The top buds have not fully opened yet, so I can spray the repellent and I expect the small tree will survive. But, this is the reminder I needed to get to spraying or risk damaging a bunch of plants in the garden. I refuse to give in to deer, so I’ll plant what I want and do the best I can to protect them without constructing fences. I don’t care if plants are deer resistant, as undependable as that term is. I plant what I like, and fight it out with a repellent with a scent or taste that discourages deer. It is mostly successful.
A second, even smaller horse chestnut was pulled out of the ground a few weeks ago. From the start, I thought the soil might be too damp, and it was so small that when a tall, pink flowered ‘Daybreak’ magnolia (below) became available it took only a moment to decide to pull the horse chestnut out and set it in a container to grow until it gets a little more size.
Rabbits are now a constant presence in the garden. They hardly seem bothered when I walk near. I suppose they think I’m their buddy since I plant so many tasty treats that they enjoy munching on to sever stems. I consider arming myself with small rocks. I can throw a lethal fastball, but I could never throw a strike and I’d hate for the bunnies to stand back and laugh at my inaccurate tosses. They become less cute every day, and have become a larger nuisance than the deer.
Many of the hostas (below) are up and many have unfurled their leaves. With many dozens, the garden goes from half bare to filled in a short period. This is also quite helpful as I’m cramming new plants into tight spaces. Too many times I plant a little something that is then overwhelmed by a wide spreading hosta that I hadn’t a clue was there. Now that the hostas are up I can make bad decisions with more information.
Soon, I expect delivery of some unusual dwarf hostas and a few with narrow, pointed leaves. These will be plugged into gaps between boulders that retain the mostly shaded circle patio, and in crevices of several new boulders set in place in autumn. I don’t know if deer will be able to get at these, but I’ll spray as soon as they’re planted just in case.
I suspect there are more of the new hostas than there are ideal spaces to plant, but that’s old news around here. I couldn’t wait to plant the new, sunny rock garden beside the greenhouse (above and below), so with several mail orders still to come I planted most of the open spaces. When the orders arrived, room was found for everything, but as usual there will be plants that are too close that must be moved some day. No problem, I enjoy moving things around nearly as much as planting the first time. Deer and rabbits can be frustrating, plants rarely are.
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GADS! Something ate several flats of sunflower seedlings. I suspected mice, and tried to not get too annoyed. This morning, I found elderberry cuttings pulled out with their roots gone! I doubt that mice would have done that. I am glad that deer do not come in here.
I got a chuckle out of your comments regarding trouble with rabbits! I’ve lived her and gardened for some 50 years, but this year I’ve had HUGE rabbit problems. They seem to eat most everything in our gardens. We’re like a salad bar for them. On the one hand, I find them cute, but on the other hand they’re a garden disaster. For the first time ever I’ve bought some rabbit repellent to sprinkle around, and it seems to be working. But time will tell.
I haven’t tried rabbit repellents yet, but I’ve heard they’re not effective. In any case, rabbits mostly go after new, very small perennials for whatever reason. They don’t seem to bother larger plants, though I wonder what they’re doing when I see them so often.
What repellent do you use for the deer?
I use Bobbex, but I’ve used other brands with success. It is best to alternate two different scents/ tastes, so I alternated Bobbex and Deer Off, but now, every other month, I add a small amount of a hot pepper used to deter squirrels.
Thanks! I use hot pepper against squirrels too, and irish spring soap shavings seem to deter the deer, but only temporarily here. I’m going to try one of those.