Oh deer…

Deer caught doing a runner from the restaurant this morningBlithewold has been pretty lucky so far.  For a while it seemed like there must be an invisible 8′ high barrier encircling the property but in the past couple-three (four?) years the phantom fence has been breached on occasion by those timid, hungry, cloven hoofed landscape destroyers we affectionately call deer.  Lately we’ve seen the tell-tail evidence of more frequent visits and today I caught sight of a pair just after they had breakfasted on delicious tulip tops in the North Garden and Rose Garden.  What worries me is that all of the deer in Bristol probably know now about the Blithewold All-You-Can-Eat breakfast buffet.  Gail and I scattered Milorganite fertilizer (they hate that stuff) over all the tulips in every garden to try to discourage these hungry visitors. And we’ll have to keep reapplying as more and more tasty buds surface.

breakfast special: Tulip tops and budsbit off a little more than they could chew?

You know me – I prefer to encourage visitors to Blithewold so here’s my two-birds/one-stone solution: The more welcome visitors there are on the grounds, the less frequently (much less!) we’ll see the unwelcome ones – and with any luck we’ll still have a stupendous tulip display.  Here are a few shots from my morning walk to entice you…

Red maple (Acer rubrum) budssilvery fuzzy pulmonaria buds in the Rock GardenIris reticulata in the North Garden - catch this one quick before it goes!buds breaking on the Cornus masCornelian cherry (Cornus mas)Purple leaf giant filbert (Corylus maxima 'Purpurea')frostbit buds on the Dawn viburnum (V. bodnatense)

I hope you can help!  Now if we could just book some pre-dawn bus tours…  Do deer dine in your garden?  How do you discourage them?

6 thoughts on “Oh deer…

  1. The deer population goes up and down around here and it depends a lot on the weather if they come into the garden. They did a lot of damage last winter. We use a natural based Pepper spray to keep them away. You have to reapply it to the new foliage so I have already sprayed the tulips twice.

    I have learned to yield to the deer on some plants.

    DF, We’re hoping that we won’t have to yield much to the deer but we’ll definitely have to reconsider spending $$ on tulips if they prove to be too delicious. -kris

  2. They came calling last fall and even slept in the garden..it was very safe back there…when they left one day to forage… I remembered to shut the gates! They haven’t been back since, but when their favorite bur oak acorns arrive they will! gail

    Gail, Yours is probably the finest B&B around! Is your fence 8′ tall or are the deer just very respectful of your privacy? -kris

  3. Knock wood we don’t have trouble with deer, rabbits, or much else but the average bug. Our neighbors have a gorgeous garden on about twice the land we have, and don’t seem to suffer losses on their hostas and such, though they burlap their tender shrubs after the hard year a while back when I guess the deer were really hard up. In the 6 years he’s been here growing lots of tomatoes mostly, my honey has never seen a deer in the yard or had anything eaten. In Ithaca though they have support groups for deer pressure ;)

    I love the support group thought. We know one gardener here who has pretty much given up – she says the deer just stare at her and keep munching while she shouts and waves her arms. It’s lucky that they’ve stayed away from your tomates – and I bet they stay well away now that you have Buddy on patrol! -kris

  4. I remember reading in Garden Design or some such rage about a woman in Santa Barbara that actually turned her garden into a wildlife preserve. She said that she planted some roses specifically for the deer to eat! She’s banned her gardeners from using power tools and the like. The weird thing was that you would think her garden would look scrappy and eaten over. On the contrary, her garden looked like a bit of a Californian Eden. Weird!

    I don’t have deer trouble, so I don’t know how this works, but I had to admire her for her moxy and good luck.

    Susan, I would expect a ravaged look to a garden like that too – because that’s the woe we hear about in deer infested gardens. There’s not a lot we can do to discourage the deer – except they really don’t love being on the property when there are visitors – so I think we’ll just have to learn to live with some grazing and focus on how beautiful the grounds are despite that! -kris

  5. The deer are a beautiful nuisance. Will bring deer spray but I have found that they will eat anything if they are really hungry and tulips…like candy! I am thinking of fencing but this is a big yard.

    Layanee, It’s amazing to me that you still think they’re beautiful… It’s true though. How does the deer spray work in all this rain? -kris

  6. My mother(Mary Philbrick)loved deer. I used to too until I woke up yesterday to find that they had eaten the beautiful blue/yellow violas I had planted in her memory. Needless to say I don’t think I love them so much anymore knowing just how close they are coming to my house. I used to think my flowers were pretty safe, I guess I need to plan accordingly now. It’s a good thing I love cone flowers. By the way, I will be bringing more of those violas for the garden at Blithwald. Hopefully you will be able to find a little spot for them for Mary. Keep an eye on my dad for me. I’m hoping to help him plant tomatos again this year.

    Maggie, We all miss Mary madly and will look forward to your visit – it’s funny that she loved deer, the rascals. And I suspect that Dick will have so much help in the vegetable bed this year, he won’t get a moment to himself! (No worries.) -kris

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