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Janet Macunovich

Deerly won advice

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Many of you have struggled with deer. Want to help on this -- share some of the things you've learned and the prices you've paid? This came in via email:


Re deer: I want to protect approximately ten new trees with a diameter of about 1” and 5' tall. Short of praying 24 x 7 what would you suggest? - S.I. -


Perfect antler-whacking size trees. Botanical gardens protect EVERY new plant with a wire cage wide out from the tree. Or fence the entire property (8'; or double fence to create width, or electric -- usually TWO electric fences, again for width) and/or patrol it with deer-chaser dogs.


Seems like pro gardener Pam Carter of Deer and Gardens in Milford Michigan (where the General Motors Proving Ground herd makes a locust swarm or an army on the march seem whimpy) told me about having an iron monger make her some beautiful iron posts to circle trees, "If we have to have them, and we do, we might as well like their looks."


S.I. also commented that her search on the What's Up part of GardenAtoZ.org netted only a few deer references. Sorry about that. We do have a lot more about deer in our library-still-to-be-posted but because those articles were high demand items pre-website we included most of them on our books and CDs -- which are still available at our GardenAtoZ Market. Now, as we load articles from our files onto the site we've been giving preference to those items that are not available on any other media. So the deer stuff may be last.


Unless some Sponsors call for that topic. Sponsor us and you can pull things forward in queue.

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I move from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to a condo in Kalamazoo.

Luckily I do have space to plant andgrow a variety of things. This is a much warmer climate than Marquette but

with the added challenge of deer that roam through the area. I can see that many of

my new plants (last year) have been eaten, including my beautiful yellow rhody's.  If you

have suggestions of shrubs and small trees that will survive deer, would love to know what

they are.  I am wondering if my nine bark and hydrangea will return.


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Well, they eat ninebark and hydrangeas where we deal with deer so protection is in order if you are growing those. There is little they won't eat or rub on, especially if they are hungry or the hormones are running high. In our experience - which is to say in our facets of the deer populaton for every group differs; do you know in some places they do NOT eat tulips? - they don't eat the native spicebush (Lindera benzoin) or bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora). Spice bush is great for the shade as long as it is moist soil. The yellow flowers in April (ahead of forsythia) are okay in shade but can be quite showy if it is in part sun or sun.


They usually leave pines and spruce unless they are starving (and then, poor things, can't digest it; conservation officers have found deer dead by starvation with pine in their stomach).


If you have sun the butterfly bush is a good choice (Buddleia davidii). Full sized 6' or dwarves as small as 3'. Easy care since all you do is cut them to the ground in spring. Babyberry (Myrica pennsylvanica) likes sun too but will tolerate some shade. Some people see bayberry only as a shrub but we have seen it as a very nice multi-stem tree. Insignificant flowers but interesting gray blue fruits, very fragrant.


Anyone have other suggestions for C.F.?

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