Deer Proof

Deer under gravenstein apple tree
photo by SVSeekins

Now there’s Proof the deer really do hang out in our garden.
Photographic proof!!

AND it turns out he’s a 3 Point Buck!  Isn’t he a beauty?

This moment holds me still.. until I gather my wits & move carefully away from the window to get my camera.  I’ve been trying to get a decent shot of this fellow for over a month now but all the photos have turned out blurry….

urban black tail deer under sparten apple tree garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Slowly moving back to the dining room window, I pretend to be calm & oblivious of the animal just a few yards away.  I don’t want to spook him.

He’s so close!

Surprisingly, growing up in the-back-of-beyond certainly never presented an experience of a deer so near – – unless it was already dead & being prepared for the oven.  But that’s just not the same.

urban black tail deer climbing sparten apple tree Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest garden
photo by SVSeekins

I’m a little in awe.  And quite glad to have the window between me & those antlers.  (There’s no fear when it comes to the doe & fawn.  I ‘shoo’ them out of the yard quite regularly.)

As I watch, it becomes clear he’s not just looking for a little shade.  He has a taste for apples.

Is nothing safe?

Deer in the full sun border
photo by SVSeekins

Well, there are plenty of apples this year, so sharing those is not really an issue.  I guess that if there is anything in the garden that I really want to be left alone, it’ll need to be caged in or sprayed with some of that stinky stuff.

But then, I dislike the smell of that stinky stuff and don’t like the idea of fencing the whole yard. (& I do enjoy seeing the deer)… So, that leaves the challenge of finding lovely plants that are deer proof… or at least some the deer don’t tend to munch on… that often.

I’m feeling kind of discouraged right now, in the heat of summer, because this year the buck seems to have a taste for the Rudbeckia, the Coreopsis, & Chinese lantern.  (Those were left alone last year)   But I have to keep in mind we’ve had better success with other plants.

At different times of the year, this patch of the garden can look pretty good.   Many early spring bulbs survive just fine:

full sun garden in early april
photo by SVSeekins

By May there are some other successes:

Eriophyllum lanatum, Woolly Eriophyllum, Wooly Sunflower, Oregon Sunshine, woody eriophyllum, wooly daisy, sunshine flower, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins
  • foxglove – digitalis
  • snapdragon
  • leopard’s bane – an early yellow bloom very reminiscent of a daisy  – – but related to an aster
  • Senecio greyii – also called the daisy bush – – or is it maybe really a yellow aster?
  • wooly sunflower – Eriophyllum – another aster type flower… do you reckon there’s a theme here?   hmmm…     (photo on right)

Check out this photo below from early June:

full sun garden in early June
photo by SVSeekins
  • Ceanothus (California lilac) – the two blue blooming shrubs (center & top left)
  • iris – blooming purple with white highlights (right)
  • peony – blooming red (far left)
  • red hot poker – Kniphofia, blooming yellow & orange between the 2 Ceanothus
  • Allium moly lutea – blooming yellow along the front of the bed (the last of the spring bulbs)
goldenrod & shasta daisy
photo by SVSeekins

Later in the summer, there are other gems that I can be fairly confident that the deer will turn their noses up on:

Even into the fall & winter – – when the deer are especially hungry, there are some successful survivors in the garden:

CU Colchicum grouping 1, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwestolchicum - fall crocus.
photo by SVSeekins

No doubt there are other ‘deer resistant’ plants in our garden that haven’t been mentioned in this list. The more important thing to realize is that ‘resistant’ is as good as it gets.  Those critters are unpredictable when hungry.  Fawns are curious & just don’t know any better.   ‘Deer Proof’ does not exist.

Deer crossing lawn
photo by SVSeekins




P.S. The deer saga continues:

Landscaping With Wild Strawberries

An early summer adventure when I was a kid, was picking tiny, wild strawberries.  They were packed with incredible flavour.  We would forage for ages just to bring home a small bowl full, but it was always worth it.

wild strawberries 1
photo by SVSeekins

More recently (2 years ago), at a ‘Gardening with Native Plants’ workshop, I learned those very same plants will happily grow in the urban landscape.  How cool is that?  Plants that provide an opportunity to forage in my own yard AND do double duty as a ground cover! Bring it on!

I’d never seen thick mats of strawberries like those in the photos at the gardening workshop, but Pat Johnston really knows her stuff, so I totally believed it was possible.  I immediately formed a plan.

Trent Street garden
photo by SVSeekins

Pat explained the 2 kinds of local wild strawberries to take into consideration.  The coastal strawberry is a tough, full sun, drought tolerant workhorse.  The woodland strawberry also works great as a ground cover, but performs much better in more shady parts of the garden.

After running across a bed of wild strawberries growing prolifically in a curbside city garden – – and looking like they were about to take over the sidewalk, I was even more encouraged. Who knew wild strawberries would grow so well in town? I set about planting coastal strawberries in our sunny garden bed.

The landscape trend was spreading.  A new native landscape area at the college down the street was planted with wild strawberries, too.

strawberry patch at Camosun's Lansdowne campus
photo by SVSeekins

The other day (2 years later) I walked by the spot and was impressed by how well that area had filled in.  Perhaps the Camosun groundskeepers fertilize a little more than I do?… or maybe they water the area more?  or maybe they originally planted more starts?… I’m not sure.  But it looks great, doesn’t it?.

I reckon our strawberry patch will catch up in another year or two.  In the meantime I’m enjoying watching my own little community of strawberries send out their ‘runner babies’.

The birds are more vigilant than I am, so I don’t expect to ever have enough harvest to make jam or pie.  I figure the occasional berry is a reward for getting out in the garden to water or weed.

© SVSeekins and Garden Variety Life, 2013

strawberry patch at Camosun'
photo by SVSeekins